This is according to one of the most respected and influential global wine publications, the International Wine Review.
Don Winkler, the review’s editor, and Mike Potashnik, its publisher, described wine tourism in South Africa’s Cape Winelands as “better developed…than any other country we know.”
“While the country is located far from most foreign wine lovers, it offers huge rewards to those who visit its wine country.
“Most wineries have excellent tasting facilities and many have superb restaurants with spectacular mountain vineyard views,” they explained.
Winkler and Potashnik visited the Winelands in December 2011 and they are not the only ones to be impressed by its wineries; the US Weather Channel placed the region second after Andalucía on its 2012 list of top 10 wine trails.
Wine tourism generates an estimated annual income of R5 billion in South Africa and has maintained steady growth despite the economic downturn.
Communications manager of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), André Morgenthal, attributes the growing stature of the country’s wineries to being part of the Great Wine Capitals network.
This, he argues, has allowed South African producers to benchmark “themselves against international best practice”.
The Winelands are located in South Africa’s Western Cape, east of the province’s capital Cape Town. Nestled among stunning mountains the region not only boasts beautiful vistas; it is also steeped in culture and history, featuring many examples of Dutch architecture from the 17th century.
Some of the most popular towns on the wine trail include Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Wellington.