Wine Specialist Guides

The very word specialist conjures up images of an Einstein-type character who is able to rattle off Latin names, impress with statistics and know just about everything associated with his or her area of specialism.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case where wine is concerned.  I can remember years ago chatting to a group of tourist guides about my vision for Wine Tourism and was met with a curt response from one individual along the lines of “you are dreaming”. 

Times have moved forward in our tourism industry or have they?. The challenge in our industry is to continue to offer exceptional and insightful tours that will lead to repeat business. Tourists that are treated like cash cows will not return and if they do, they will certainly not want the same sub-standard service.  The fact of the matter is that there is a demand for field specialists who are suitably qualified: passion alone does not confer such status on a guide!   Tourists paying top dollar for a private wine tour should be in the capable hands of a suitably qualified guide and not an individual who thinks Vitis Vinifera is a rock band!

At the end of 2007 the Registrar of Tourist Guides passed a ruling that has clearly raised the standard of delivery where wine tourism is concerned.  A tourist guide who is registered as a Wine Specialist in terms of DEAT’s (Dept of Education, Arts and Tourism) criteria,  has a minimum qualification of Certificate level from the Cape Wine Academy.  This decision is to be applauded for at last tourists have a level of expectancy that should be met in terms of service and product knowledge.  The overall success of a Wine Specialist is based on how up to date they are with local wine news, wine products and also International knowledge.  This requires many hours of reading and research and keeping up with global trends.  Sadly, there are too many occasions when international tourists end up educating our local guides and tasting room staff about our own wine!

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