Travellers spend no less than 25% of their overall budget on food and beverages.
Travellers spend no less than 25% of their overall budget on food and beverages.
Image: 123RF / Yulia Grogoryeva

South Africa’s food and wine scene is a vital part of not just my livelihood but our country’s tourism economy too. Having recently attended this year’s Wine & Food Tourism Conference, held at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, I’m more convinced than ever about the role food and wine can play in building a better, brighter South Africa.

Let’s start with the numbers. On average, travellers spend no less than 25% of their overall budget on food and beverages while travelling. That’s a rather strong trickle-down effect on the economy, creating thousands of opportunities. And while many might not travel specifically for food or wine experiences, the quality of these plays a surprisingly big role in their enjoyment of their trip, whether they will return, and whether or not they will encourage others to come here.

Freshly inspired by the conference, here are three food and wine trends that aren’t going anywhere but up:

1. FUN FUSIONS

Gone are the days of solo thinking and drinking. We want integrated experiences that bring together a range of our favourite things and products. Think innovative wine and food pairings, surprising collaborations, like ice cream and beer, or The James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington joining Airbnb to offer whiskey lovers the chance to spend a night sleeping in a working distillery.

Travellers spend no less than 25% of their overall budget on food and beverages. That’s a rather strong trickle-down effect on the economy, creating thousands of opportunities

2. REAL STORIES

In an age of fake news, nothing tastes sweeter than real, honest stories. Increasingly, the enjoyment of food and wine isn’t in the products alone, but in discovering the real stories behind them, and becoming part of the story by sharing our experience of them with our tribes through social media. That’s why intimate cellar tours, guided by the winemakers themselves, or food experiences that offer a peek into the chef’s kitchen, are so compelling.

Another example is places like Beau Constantia’s Wine Tasting Room, which not only tolerates guests’ stories and reviews, but actively encourages them by offering a complimentary MCC tasting for every live Instagram post they’re tagged in. Cheers to the ultimate win-win!

3. TAILOR-MADE TASTES

Thanks to ever-progressing leaps in technology, customisation is more possible and in demand than ever. From bespoke wine labels to tailor-made wine tours and personalised monthly wine deliveries, in our age of mass media, mass production is so passé.

Here’s hoping that these trends not only enrich your life but also help to boost our collective economy.

 Wade Bales is the Founder of Wade Bales Wine Co. 

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