The awards ceremony was held at La Motte Estate on 22 November 2011.
Photo: La Motte
Accommodation: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa
Situated on the highest crest of the Helshoogte Mountain Pass, linking Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, the estate has one of the leading boutique hotels in this illustrious vineyard region. The estate is a premier winery, restaurant and hotel destination. Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa offers world class accommodation, luxurious personalised service, leading South African contemporary art work. The estate is perfectly situated to take maximum advantage of the views over the local hills and vineyards.
The award was given for Delaire’s commitment to perfection, outstanding service and information given by the staff about the entire region, eptomising what wine tourism is all about.
Jonathan Lithgow said, “I am delighted that our teams continued effort to establish Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa as a leading provider of consistent, sincere world class hospitality has been recognised two years running.”
Architecture & Landscapes: Waterkloof Wines
Cocooned in a contemporary glass and concrete sphere, the deep open barrel cellar becomes apparent immediately as you enter the building and make your way to the slick, yet unadorned tasting lounge. Here massive walls of clear glass reveal a working cellar with ranks of wooden, open top fermenters and create a majestic sense of space through the outstretched views. Appointed in a 10 meter high glass promontory flowing from the wine tasting lounge and gravitational cellar, the restaurant is set against the amphitheatre of vineyards and False Bay in the distance.
The jury felt that Waterkloof deserved the award because of its bold, simple structure, perfectly proportioned volumes and dramatically framed views of contoured vineyards and indigenous vegetation.
Paul Boutinot, Waterkloof Wines: “Our desire for Waterkloof has always been to create as perfect a functioning environment as possible within a form that radiates beauty. We would hope that the design and execution stands the test of time.”
Art and Culture: La Motte Estate
A clear dedication to art and culture is reflected throughout the La Motte tourist experience – in wine-making, culinary creativity, classical music offering, preservation of the estate’s heritage and appreciation of graphic arts, as expressed by the admiration of famous South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, whose name is honoured in the restaurant and by the La Motte premium wine range.
Why it won the award: Art and culture are integral to the experience at La Motte – from the drive into the estate, where the visitor is greeted by a monumental sculpture, to the presence of Pierneef in the reception area and in the name of the restaurant. The exhibition spaces are well balanced between the Pierneef collection and more recent works by South African artists, while the audio component of classical music enhances the experience.
La Motte was also the winner of an international ‘Best Of Wine Tourism award at the annual general meeting of the Great Wine Capitals in Mainz, Germany on October 27.
Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices: Waverley Hills Organic Wines & Olives
Waverley Hills offers a unique and organic experience where one can learn more about organic farming and the natural fauna and flora that surrounds the Estate. It is the first organic wine producer to achieve the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative Champion status. The fynbos nursery brings the Cape Floral Kingdom to your doorstep; explore these beautiful plants on hiking or biking trails and enjoy organic wine and olive products in the tasting room.
Waverley Hills was the jury’s choice in this category because of its strong commitment to sustainability in the vineyard, the winemaking process, conserving water resources, transmitting their knowledge to wine tourists, and involving the local community.
For Johan Delport – Winemaker, Waverley Hills Organic Wines “Waverley Hills feels proud be awarded the winery in South Africa with the Best Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices. The fact that we have won it the second year running makes it that much more rewarding. It shows that our commitment to sustainability is being recognised. It also shows that we are doing it for the right reasons and not only because we want to attract attention, but that we honestly believe that it is the right thing to do.”
Wine Tourism Restaurant: Tokara Restaurant
The restaurant, situated 400 meters above sea level on top of the Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch, offers its guests terroir focused contemporary cuisine, award-winning wines and dramatic views over Stellenbosch and False Bay. The building housing the restaurant is a Cape architectural icon utilising glass, steel and stone. The restaurant is proud to showcase award-winning chef Richard Carstens’ intelligent take on modern South African cooking. Each plate of food offers the diner a sense of the natural environment where the restaurant is situated and also the current season through the ingredients used.
For the jury, Tokara convinced on all levels; beautiful setting, good modern food, professional service and evident wine appreciation, plus their generous opening hours.
Wilhelm Khün, Tokara Restaurant operator, commented “We’re delighted to be included in such a prestigious list. It’s especially a great honour as it’s been almost a year to the day since our new management team took over the restaurant with Richard Carstens as our executive chef.
Innovative Wine Tourism Experience: Solms-Delta
In addition to its highly acclaimed wines, Solms-Delta offers modern Cape cuisine at Fyndraai restaurant, an annual harvest festival that draws thousands of visitors each year, and seasonal Summer Concerts that showcase local Cape music. The estate also houses a moving museum that explores the slave heritage of the area, and six special interest guided farm tours. Solms-Delta is owned in partnership by a trust that benefits the estate’s historically disadvantaged residents and employees.
The Best Of jury felt that Solms-Delta’s more innovative projects such as an archaeological and historic tour, a world-class interactive museum, a walk around a garden planted with culinary and medicinal ingredients used by the early inhabitants of the valley and a luncheon menu that incorporates these ingredients. Last, but not least, is the enthusiasm and passion of the workers in every sphere of service, thanks to an inspiring `and innovative programme of social upliftment, empowerment profit-sharing on the farm.
Marks Solms, Solms-Delta: “I think it is important that we tell the full story of the SA wine industry, including the conflicted parts. This is what visitors want to know about; they don’t come to South Africa to see Europe. They want an authentic experience. I believe they cannot understand SA wine terroir without knowing something about our social history.”
Wine Tourism Services: Waterford Wines
Owned and run by the Ord and Arnold families since 1998, in 13 years Waterford has become one of South Africa’s most recognized and highly regarded wine brands. The Cellar Door Experience is second to none and includes standard wine tastings, the Waterford Wine and Chocolate experience, the Vintage Reserve Tasting and now the Waterford Estate Wine Drive. Guests are also invited to participate in our Golf and Wine Experience that is run in conjunction with De Zalze Golf Estate and 3 of the Top Ten Restaurants in the country.
The jury commented, “Waterford is well staffed by passionate local people who exude confidence and charm, while displaying excellent knowledge of their product, the farm and the region. The environment is conducive to enjoying excellent wines in a relaxed space which introduces the families involved in the production and investment. This is a customer focused operation.”
Kevin Arnold, Waterford Estate commented, “Waterford Estates’ third award since 2006 is extremely gratifying and supportive of our quest to offer the best cellar door experience worldwide”
Written by John Abbott