Sorry Boet, Can’t Help – it’s only 2010

Dear Roelof
It was great talking to you and the other students from the Stellenbosch Wine Society last week. I was amazed to see that your Society has over 400 members! And your commitment to learning more about the industry through field (vineyard) trips, reading and holding exhaustive tastings sure dispels any opinions we old squirts may foster as to students being a bunch of piss cats!
But I really am sorry that I could not answer your queries with regards to who runs the South African wine industry.
We had reached this question when you and some of your mates asked me how the industry is gearing itself to utilize the enormous opportunities of World Cup 2010.
The unfortunate answer is that whilst there is a lot of talking going on as to what these opportunities may be, there are not many practical strategies in place to make use of these opportunities. You mentioned a project where one of the industry bodies is training wine stewards to tell 2010 visitors that shiraz is like a big strong rhinoceros and that sauvignon blanc is a fresh and vigorous as a splash from the Victoria Falls.
And I agree, this is cute.
But the question remains: A cumulative television audience of nine billion will be seeing South African during one month. Over 500 000 visitors will set foot on our shores for the same period.
Who is co-ordinating a selective strategy to ensure that during all the hype and all the focus on South Africa, the wine industry is going to raise its hand and ensure it gets its share of the attention, something we need very much? Africa’s ability to make wine and grow grapes is not a well-known fact, and 2010 can see us change this perception.
Unfortunately there is not a strategy nor an industry body tasked with addressing this. I don’t know if this is because of a lack of interest of funds or just plain South African thick-skinned stupidity, but with nine months to go it seems that the Big Game Hunting Association of South Africa and the mountain bike groups are far ahead of the wine industry in latching up to the aforementioned opportunities.
Not that members of the industry do not see the need for leadership and guidance in the wine industry’s relationship with 2010. I am inundated by wineries and tourism bodies with the following questions:
– What are the legal parameters in terms of branding our tasting rooms during 2010?
– Who is liaising with the tourism bodies at local and national level to ensure that the teams of electronic and print media visiting South Africa on a weekly basis are directed towards the wine industry as a major tourism attraction?
– Why is no-one informing the wine industry which areas within the winelands have been identified as base camps where teams participating in the World Cup Tournament will be based for the duration of the tournament? This will allow the relevant locations to embark on a wine tourism specific strategy as to how to handle the thousands of fans and media who will be based in these wineland locations for the duration of the tournament.
– Who is going to run a proactive Wine South Africa communication and marketing strategy in tandem with 2010?
– Is there a body or organisation who can brief wineries ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ from Cape Point to Kakamas; Darling to the Langkloof as to how to cope with the influx of visitors and ensure that a standard of service levels are in place of which the industry can be proud?

Sorry, Boet, I just don’t know. Yes, there are a number of industry bodies who should be looking into these and other issues. I know they should be because their member wineries are knocking on doors looking for assistance!
Unfortunately the industry’s powers that be do not seem to realise the importance of galvanising itself to exploit the tremendous once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that awaits. Actually, it has already begun.
Be glad that you are still at university and do not have to be part of this complacency. Hopefully you and your fellow wine fanatics can learn from this balls-up we outoppies are responsible for and change the general way the wine industry is doing things.
Kind regards

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