SA tourism, wine industry can benefit from sparkling wine route

South Africa produces around 4% of the world’s wine and is ranked as number seven in overall volume production.

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But, while South African wine is well known around the world, the sparkling wines produced locally are less popular, despite a large number of such wines being produced. According to research conducted by Radu Mihailescu of Stenden University in the Netherlands, the establishment of one or more sparkling wine routes in the Cape wine lands could have a beneficial effect on the further development of the local tourism industry as well as increasing the exposure of such wines to foreign markets.

Mihailescu was one of the speakers at the American Association of Wine Economists’ Conference held at Spier in Stellenbosch recently. He said the development of the wine routes in SA greatly influenced the popularity of local wines and provided extensive benefits to the regional tourism industry. His research revolved around identifying potential sparkling wine routes that could attract both seasoned wine enthusiasts as well as more casual wine tourists.

He also looked at the potential revenues for the tourism sector if such routes were developed. “The research started from the assumption that the development of the sparkling wine tour has the potential to increase the receipts to the local tourism industry as well as to promote South African sparkling wines,” he explained. 

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In order to test this hypothesis a number of sparkling wine routes were proposed from routes that met the following criteria; there had to be at least four sparkling wine estates on each route and the routes had to be adjacent to other tourist attractions that could provide alternatives to the visiting tourists. “After a number of routes were identified the next step was to calculate the potential revenues generated by the chosen routes and from this the top three routes with the highest amount of potential revenues were finally chosen.”

The three routes chosen were:
Route 1: The Franschoek – Paarl Route which includes Cabriere, Colmant Cap Classique and Champagne, Laborie Estate and Topiary Wine.
Route 2: The Stelenbosch- Constantia Route which includes J.C. Le Roux, Villiera Wines, Simonsig, Boschendal and Groot Constantia.
Route 3: The Worcester to Robertson Route which includes Graham Beck Wines, Weltevrede wine estate, Van Loveren wine estate and Du Toits Kloof wine estate.

The potential revenue from these routes was calculated at around R3 300 per person excluding accommodation and R7 200 per person including accommodation. Mihailescu concluded that the establishment of sparkling wine routes could indeed prove beneficial for further development of the local tourism industry and increase the exposure of South African sparkling wines on the foreign markets.