Think wine and for many the Boland area comes to mind. But one of the city’s best kept secrets is that there is a plethora of wine farms and depending on where you live, it could be on your doorstep.
Did you know that Durbanville has no fewer than 12 wine farms all offering a variety of different “experiences”?
Enver Duminy, chief executive officer of Cape Town Tourism, is passionate about putting forward the idea of wine tourism on your doorstep and small wonder: the wine tourism industry was accredited last year with contributing R6 billion to the economy and, it shows no sign of abating.
In a wide-ranging chat at the Cape Town Tourism offices in the Cape Town city centre, Mr Duminy stressed that getting the locals involved is the best way of showcasing our attractions. That’s because if the locals don’t like it then how are the international visitors going to get to know and enjoy our attractions?
He told Tabletalk: “The perception about wine brands is that they predominantly come from places like Stellenbosch and Paarl and those areas, but now more and more wine is being produced in neighbourhoods close to the city centre. What is beautiful is the fantastic mix of urban and rural wine country.”
While Mr Duminy was also referring to the historic Constantia Wine Valley, the Durbanville Wine Valley is the perfect example for locals nearby to hop into their car and take a 10-minute drive to buy wine, let their children play in wide open spaces and enjoy a diverse range of dining experiences from fine dining to family meals.
Mr Duminy says: “The spin-off of our own residents visiting destinations that attract overseas visitors as well, is that when the locals go there they are telling a story.
“They buy the wine and publicise it; mostly using digital technology to describe what they drank and that news carries further.”
Born and bred in Mitchell’s Plain, Mr Duminy says: “Part of what we are looking at is getting people from previously disadvantaged communities to try something new.
“Unfortunately many of the people who live in these communities do not have fond memories of wine farms as their forebears may have been exploited labourers. But now we are looking to expose them to the lure of these experiences which need not necessarily be costly.”
The Durbanville Wine Valley was established in 2004. A ward of the Tygerberg wine district, it was awarded Wine of Origin status in 1989.
One of its major drawcards is the fact that wineries range from the boutique small-yield estates like Nitida to large-scale farms – coops – like Durbanville Hills which has a pool of different wine grape farmers from whom they source their wines. A unique micro-climate with vineyards on average just 12km from the cooling Atlantic sea breezes, the area is one of the coolest coastal wine areas and is renowned for its sauvignon blanc wines, dedicating a festival, Season of Sauvignon Blanc, just to this versatile varietal.
Mr Duminy says another unique selling point for an area like Durbanville is that its proximity, even for locals who live further afield like Mitchell’s Plain is the self-drive aspect, making it an ideal place for a day trip.
He has plenty “think outside the box” ideas, some which wine estates have already embraced to draw in visitors even further; such as offering accommodation in renovated sheds; offering biking events and showcasing their wines through festivals such as the Season of Sauvignon Blanc – while collaborating with neighbourhood estates to find a common theme.
“What’s so important here is that today people want to detox from the digital and can find a setting where they can switch off.”
But talking of the digital, he says these days you don’t have to be an expert to speak about and know about wine.
An app for example called vivino, which he demonstrated, allows you to take a photograph of any bottle of wine and within minutes get a rating, tasting notes and even order online and in the same way, perplexed diners at a restaurant can scan a wine list and get to see what is deemed the most attractive price wise.
“Apps allow us to find out more without embarrassing ourselves and it takes away those barriers,” he says.
Back to the Durbanville Wine Valley, Mr Duminy says with the growing number of housing developments and security estates in the area and with a growing number of younger people, there is a greater number of residents with “spend” attracted to wine. Once considered a luxury item, it is now developing into a commodity that more and more consumers can afford.
“The younger residents also have more disposable income.
“Wine has become more ‘contemporary’. It is opening up and can become one of our largest tourism supporters,” he says with a broad smile.
The overseas visitor economy, he adds, is treated like gold but it is the locals who are “our bread and butter. If the locals come, the international travellers will come. Let’s go get them.”
* Aside from sauvignon blanc which is Durbanville’s signature wine and produced in a variety of styles, wooded and unwooded, the most planted cultivars are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz and chardonnay. Winemakers are also experimenting with lesser-known cultivars like pinot gris, pinot noir and semillon and Altydgedacht is well-known for its Barbera.
There are 12 member wineries of the Durbanville Wine Valley.
For a day trip, head up or down the Tygerbergvalley Road ( M13) where you’ll find several Durbanville wine estates, including Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Nitida, Bloemendal, D’Aria, and Altydgedacht, within easy reach.
If you have a little more time, visit De Grendel on the M14, follow the Vissershok Road (M48) to the historic cellars of Meerendal, or Diemersdal, off the M58, on the Koeberg/Adderley Road.