The honourees for the 2nd annual Wine & Food Tourism Awards have been announced, highlighting those in the wine and food business that have impressed with their offerings, despite the Covid-19 pandemic completely changing the landscape. As convenor Margi Biggs remarked, “There’s nothing like a crisis to focus the mind.”

“When the entire premise of your business is pulled out from under you, you either focus fast or you fail.  The nine honourees of 2020 have each in their own way demonstrated a remarkable agility, creativity and dynamism in responding to the constraints imposed by Covid-19,” says Margi.

Panel judging chair, Jean-Pierre Rossouw, publisher of Rossouw’s Restaurants and the Platter’s South African Wine Guide commented that the many challenges presented by the pandemic had not stopped tourism providers from innovating.  “On the contrary, they have continued to improve their offerings, make themselves more accessible and to raise standards in their execution. It says a lot about their willingness and capacity to adapt.”

He suggests that tourism providers concentrate on three key elements going forward. “Step one is to revisit your core customer promise or your point of difference. Ask yourself: are you still happy that your business does this well? Is what you do sufficiently unique or relevant?

“Secondly, when you are clear on your core promise, reconnect with your key markets – your fans, your mailing list and your return customers. Remind them of who you are and what you offer. They are essentially your ambassadors and thus your best “marketers”.  Make a point of inviting them to return in person or to reconnect with you through your other communication channels.

“And lastly, make absolutely sure all your first points of contact, from your website to your telephone lines, your e-mail, or indeed your front door, reflect clearly who and what you are and what you stand for. And then do everything you can to ensure that what your customers perceive about you is consistent with the image you want to portray.”

The 2020 honourees in each category are:

The Vinpro Award for The Authentic South African Experience

This award acknowledges original initiatives that create authentic South African experiences in which individuals can fully immerse themselves, and at the same time promote our cultural heritage through food and wine.

  • AA Badenhorst Family Wines, Swartland
  • Leopard’s Leap, Franschhoek
  • Upper Bloem Restaurant, Cape Town

Innovation

This award recognises outstanding and original innovation in concepts, products or services that make valuable contribution, offer unique experiences, and boost food and/or wine tourism in South Africa.

  • Benguela Cove, Walker Bay, Overberg
  • Creation Wines, Hemel en Aarde, Overberg
  • La Motte, Franschhoek

WWF Conservation Leaders

This new award, sponsored by WWF-SA, celebrates those wineries that consistently minimise their environmental footprint in all aspects of their operations, from vineyard management and wine production, to tourism offerings.

  • La Motte, Franschhoek
  • Spier, Stellenbosch
  • Vergelegen, Somerset West

This year, the service excellence category has fallen away due to the pandemic, but this is just temporary and the award will be reinstated once industry normalises. The judging panel included marketing specialists Su Birch, Mac Mabidilala and Steve Massey, Belinda Lamprecht (luxury travel), Glen Christie (luxury hospitality), Pearl Oliver (sommelier), Nancy Richards (environmental and lifestyle journalist), Janet Pillai (strategist, academic and travel entrepreneur), Darryl Earl David (academic and heritage conservation activist) and Maryna Callow (wine communications).

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