Group photo: Front: Miranda van Breda (DLTA), Samanda De Vries (Diemersfontein), Alicia Jansen (Imbuko), Middle: Aubern Williams (Diemersfontein), Robert Bantham (Imbuko), Robin Klaasen (Imbuko), Monique van der Merwe(Imbuko), Rene Reece (Wellington Wine Route), Mercia Plaatjies (Doolhof), Andiswe Hlaphezulu (Linton Park), Back: Lydia Burger (Imbuko), Johann Basson (Wellington Wines) and Charlene Ferreira (Bosman)Wellington is really shaking things up!
The OMI (Old Mutual Insure) Wellington Wine Route has always been a pretty “shy-child” in the tourism classroom, notorious for their conservative and humble nature, but which has perhaps been the reason they have always been inclined to be a lot more reserved and definitely far less flamboyant about what they have to offer than their neighbouring counterparts. And although business owners and role players see tourism as a vital channel of income to this small town, it was a matter of taking what they could get and being grateful for it as opposed to trying to up-sell. However, things appear to be changing – and they’re changing fast!
The OMI Wellington Wine Route, also known as the Heart of the Cape Winelands, (#HeartWellington) is proof that the term “a hidden gem” truly exists. Once a hardly mentioned town, a mere stone’s throw from Cape Town, is now rapidly becoming a more spoken-about and broadly recognised historic and breathtakingly beautiful town! When you read a brochure about them you will find that the offerings are almost endless; rich with stories of years gone by, travellers, settlers, humanitarians, stow-aways, artists, home of the stokkies story- agricultural benchmarks, award-winning wines, renowned wine estates and a variety of other sensational and astounding offerings!
The key to tourism performance has been turned: In recent months all participating OMI Wellington Wine Route members – consisting of 17 wine estates, have culminated their energies into making a far louder (and prouder) marketing statement about this magnificent town. And the transformation has been colossal!
Gone are the days that Wellington was mis-perceived as a dusty little town out in the sticks and dubbed “smellington” – due to the rather odd smells that stemmed from the old tannery that once operated there. That “Old Tannery” we’ll have you know, has now been converted into the most attractive retro-artistic, rustic, yet modern hub of exciting offerings! Visitors are encouraged to pop in there to peruse all the fabulous things on offer, from coffee shops to interior design, craft, leather and other unique goods can be found at this new studio-type venue.
Therefore, and in essence, while everyone was out and about doing other things, Wellington was slowly turning into the next best place to visit in the Cape Winelands! Wellington is now becoming a featured spot on the map where local visitors, guests and tourists from afar can come and enjoy a multitude of sensational offerings. Furthermore, Wellington has no shortage of high-quality wines, brandies and pot-stills, outdoor activities, luxury accommodation, recreational treats, exciting events and the list goes on! There must also be a good reason why major events such as the Cape Epic Cycle race is returning to this town – again this year! (22-25 March 2018)
In more recent months the OMI Wellington Wine Route have implemented a training program to ensure that all respective wine ambassadors from the various estates in Wellington get to know one another better. The aim of this initiative it to ensure a strong sense of camaraderie amongst the various members and staff, but also to empower everyone with priceless knowledge about everything our region – as a tourism destination – and each estate individually, has to offer. That way staff can refer guests to one another directly, advise on where to go and make valuable recommendations in terms of almost everything available in our town! The program runs for a full day, once a month, where these ambassadors (key staff that engage with the public daily) visit two other estates (in Wellington) to learn about and experience everything they have to offer. Known as the “Masterclass” the day includes everything a guest could possibly experience and enjoy at the respective estate – and the ambassadors get to indulge in it all! “We learn about each other’s estates, offerings, wine, food, facilities and the amazing people behind the scenes. We’ve become such great friends and working in the OMI Wellington Wine Route feels like belonging to one big family.” (Kathleen Vaughn, Mont Du Toit Wine Estate).
Rene Reece, the OMI Wellington Wine Route Members Liaison believes that “empowering your front line” with this kind of knowledge and confidence, and to be able to refer your visitors to one another with enthusiasm, is one of the most powerful ways of marketing your destination. “We all know that we have a spectacular valley, phenomenal wines, endless offerings and so on, but when you can say to a guest, “I’ve just called Carmen at Dunstone and she’s expecting you for a private tasting and lunch…” then you’ve taken guest experience to a whole new level, and that’s what we’re working towards”. Wellington has certainly upped its game in terms of a hot-spot tourism destination, and personalised service appears to be the next target. Thus, the public is advised to keep their ears and eyes tuned to Wellington social media pages, the respective estates as well as “Visit Wellington” on Facebook to stay tuned to what’s on offer and what’s happening next in this great wine & tourism destination!