Happy 50th Stellenbosch Wine Routes! Celebrating a half-century of leadership and innovation
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, a milestone that also marks the birth of South African wine tourism.
From humble beginnings 50 years ago, the footprint of wine tourism in South Africa has extended to now boast wine-producing regions in five provinces with 23 recorded wine routes.
“The occasion of our 50th comes at a most opportune time,” says Stellenbosch Wine Routes Chairman Mike Ratcliffe. “The wine industry and indeed, the country is undergoing one of its most challenging seasons and reflecting on historic achievements is important for the inspiration it provides given the work that awaits us.”
Stellenbosch Wine Routes was founded by three adventurous winemakers, Spatz Sperling of Delheim, Neil Joubert of Spier and Frans Malan of Simonsig in 1971 when they realised the huge potential of a designated wine route.
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes currently provide a co-ordinated network of more than 150 wineries, each offering a unique cellar-door experience for the wine-lover and traveller. Each of the 5 sub-routes have their own characteristics in terms of prominent wine styles, climates and geographical location.
Today, these routes comprise a myriad of world-class wine tourism experiences in addition to wine tastings. From wine safaris to award-winning gourmet affairs, the Stellenbosch Wine Routes justifiably earns its reputation of being the biggest visitor attraction outside of Cape Town.
The Stellenbosch wine region has received the most wine awards per capita than any of its kind in South Africa, underscoring a link between the quality of wine and successful wine tourism.
Stellenbosch was also the first destination in sub-Saharan Africa to implement World Travel and Tourism Council-approved stringent health and hygiene safety protocols for staff and guests’ wellbeing. “As a wine route, we continue to put a firm focus on ensuring our wine and tourism eco-system continues to implement these protocols consistently for the safety of our staff and guests,” Ratcliffe says.
On the pandemic effects, Ratcliffe says it demonstrated how in times of crisis, communities pull together. “The industry itself has faced seemingly insurmountable crises in the past and risen to meet the challenges every time.”
Here’s to another 50 Stellenbosch Wine Routes!
Notable accolades for Stellenbosch Wine Routes
- Named Wine Town of the Year by the Munskänkarna Swedish Wine Club
- Drinks Business Awards: shortlisted for Best Contribution to Wine Tourism
- Cape Winelands Mayoral Tourism Awards: shortlisted Tourism Event of the Year
- Cape Winelands Mayoral Tourism Awards: shortlisted Tourism Event of the Year and Service Excellence
- Three-time winner of the title Best Promotional Body, Drinks International Wine Tourism Awards
- Shortlisted twice as Wine Region of the Year in Wine Enthusiast Magazine