Cape Town – Wine is largely treated as a commodity to be quaffed for pleasure or status, according to an international wine expert.
Addressing Western Cape wine producers, British connoisseur Robert Joseph said wine brands were rarely recognised and bought on a global scale because of their vintage or grape variety.
“For the majority of people it is a grape-based alcohol beverage, bought in much the same way as beer,” he said.
“In this respect Pinot Grigio and draft beer can be pretty interchangeable.”
When wine was bought as a luxury at the top end of the market, people were more interested in the pleasure or status the liquid conferred, Joseph claimed.
It was his view that local wines were not being internationally recognised because the market was highly fragmented and full of small-scale producers who lacked the marketing budget to build and sustain brands.
He said it was “crazy” to package a R30 wine in the same type of glass bottle as one selling for R3 000.
“Wine messaging and packaging is inconsistent and confusing and wineries fail to understand what consumers want and do not do enough to make wine more accessible and desirable.”
Wine producers should put more effort into attracting visitors to their cellars and providing entertainment.
“That is what California has done right. They understand that wine tourism is not merely a matter of offering tastings. That’s not tourism, it’s try-before-you-buy retailing.”
The Cape winelands in Cape Town is part of the global wine capital network which includes Bordeaux in France, Florence in Italy and Porto in Portugal.
Joseph was addressing wine producers ahead of the June closing date for the 2015 Great Wine Capitals Best Of Wine Tourism Awards.