GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - Is there anything better than going to a wine tasting? There is, actually: the Stoep Tasting Wine Weekend in Graaff-Reinet, where it's socially appropriate to celebrate wine to the maximum by tasting, learning about, buying or even indulging yourself with the delectable drinks on offer.
This year's event was the biggest and best by all accounts and plans are afoot for Stoep Taste 2022, which is expected to take place from 26 to 29 May next year.
The Graaff-Reinet Advertiser caught up with Rose Wright, of the Karoo Wine Club, to get her feedback on this year's Stoep Taste:
How would you describe this year's 3-day event?
It was very chilled and relaxed. No pressure to chase the clock for any reason. Ticket holders or our target market are people who love and appreciate wine and artisanal-styled beverages and the privilege of taking time off to enjoy it and meet the people behind what's in their glass.
Most are city folk who love being able to walk around, it is safe and clean and tidy, the wide-open spaces lend the opportunity to unwind and relax and enjoy time with people they love being with. Then of course most wine enthusiasts love good food too. I don't need to explain the deliciousness of our Karoo Food.
How many people visited this year?
We are still working on our audit but with all the extra friends and families that join in it is a big guess, but I do think there were about 4500 - 6000 visitors spread between the two towns.
Any idea how much cash was injected into the local economy?
I think a good indication is two business owners comments on Saturday this weekend that they turned over more on Friday than on their busiest day in December EVER! Restaurants were full for three meals each day.
The estimate is around R30 - R35-million for the four days. That figure excludes wine sales.
What stood out for you?
Generally, the visitors, producers and ticket holders alike absolutely loved being in the Karoo. The fact that they all want to be back again next year and they want us to do it all again. Also, the synergies that develop and how locals work together to make everything fall into place and make it an excellent experience for our guests.
Did visitors behave well and stick to the Covid protocols?
Yes, they did. Hosts and businesses had the protocols sorted and individuals were quite good at adhering to the rules. We noticed that people were being very respectful of the rules.
Anyone in specific you would like to single out?
Always, our Graaff Reinet SAPS were incredible, the visible policing in both towns was brilliant and many people commented on this. Business owners who we know we can always depend on, ISU Rommel for the bins and sorting out the removal of the waste early the next morning.
The recycling company for taking all the bottles and recyclable refuse away each morning. Of course, the hosts who took care of our producers, the restaurants who did such a fine job of feeding everyone, all the added efforts everyone goes to decorate their stoeps and create a lovely vibe for the weekend.
Are you thinking of introducing live music/bands?
Only if it is local. The only outside vendors we welcome here over Stoep Tasting are the producers, they are the magnet that draws the ticket holders in. Everything else is strictly local and Karoo, so a local muso would be most welcome.
We are determined to keep the town's economy thriving first and foremost.
Anything else you would like to mention?
Graaff Reinet and Nieu Bethesda are two beautiful towns with incredible people running them. We are so fortunate to have these teams of people here so willing and happy to jump in and do whatever it is that needs to be done. It is so easy to do this when you know that you have everyone pulling in the same direction to make the little cart go forward.
We love living here and we love the fact that we can help make a bit of difference, especially after such a tough financial year. One business owner was running out as I arrived on Monday after ST2021, over his shoulder he told me he was off to pay his neighbour "now that I can" with a broad grin on his face.
Both the Nieu Bethesda and Graaff Reinet tourism offices also need to be commended on their efforts.
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