The resort town of Victoria Falls is pursuing a new trend in tourism by encouraging hoteliers and operators to adopt wine tourism.
A few days ago, 13 wine tasters from different tourism players across the country took part in the wine tasting festival called “Zimbabwe Sommelier Cup Qualifier” at Victoria Falls Hotel. The event was in preparation for the grand wine tasting festival organised by Wines of South Africa (WoSA) in Cape Town, South Africa in September. Initially 22 competitors had registered for the competition with 13 managing to participate.
Wine is a pull factor in many destinations with key tourism markets identifying food and wine as deciding factors in picking up a holiday destination.
Tourism experts believe travellers select holiday destinations based on type and availability of wine as one of the deciding factors, as wine is one of the sophisticated beverages well sought after by tourists.
Mutare-based Takura Makadzange emerged the winner between close contest from Sikhangele Ndlovu and Maxene Chigidi of Victoria Falls.
WoSA Zimbabwean agent Kuda Hove, said wine was a key pull factor in tourism.
“The event was well attended and we will have training in October. Victoria Falls in itself already draws in thousands of visitors on its own and the added benefit of having a world class selection of wine lists as well as Sommeliers Cup is likely to attract more visitors to this destination in the way of wine tourism,” she said.
“Wine is known as a sophisticated beverage and in tourism that creates varied travel options. Tourists not specifically motivated by wine may be more than happy to have wine included in their itinerary or to visit a wine region that offers activities beyond wine,” she said.
Participants were mostly from around Victoria Falls.
The three winners will represent the country in South Africa. The participants went through an examination, blind tasting contest and welcoming guests among other activities. This involved tasting wine while blindfolded and then identifying its type and brand, colour, intensity of aromas, aroma characteristics, palate, flavour characteristics, vintage like, when it was produced and naming the grape(s) variety used in the wine.
Preliminary rounds in individual countries will end in August while the final to be held in Cape Town will take place from September 19–26. Country representatives will be hosted in South Africa and tour the winelands. They will visit some of Cape Town’s most prestigious wineries for wine tasting where they will mix and mingle with some of South Africa’s best wine tasters. South Africa is not participating for fairness in the competition since it is home to the best wines.
WoSA represents over 500 wine producers in South Africa who export about 20 million litres into the world. Traditional markets include the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, United States, Canada, China, Japan and some African countries. Victoria Falls hosted the first ever wine festival last year where it was revealed that Zimbabwe imports about 1,5 million litres of wine annually from South Africa.