Top-name international speakers like UK media celebrity and wine educator Joe Fattorini and US digital maven, data specialist and pioneer of wine e-commerce Paul Mabray will share the platform with other leading offshore and local specialists at next month’s in-person Wine Tourism Conference.

Organised to re-energise the hard-hit local wine tourism sector, the live event is scheduled for 16 March at Boschendal. Its focus will be on the value of wine tourism as a key tool for driving wine sales, with the accent on forging direct to consumer (DtC) relationships as a way of building future resilience.

Key sponsors are Wesgro and Delta Airlines.

“It was essential that we arrange a face-to-face event to boost the depleted morale of the industry,” explains organiser Margi Biggs. “We want to dispel the stress and sense of isolation so many have endured. And what better shot in the arm than an opportunity to meet with some world-class international and local tourism and marketing mavens, visionaries and problem-solvers. They will share best-practice and give delegates the lift they are looking for to make the most of what remains of this tourism season and prepare for the next.”

Fattorini is perhaps best known for his role on The Wine Show, a popular, multi-season series followed by viewers worldwide that brings the life of wine and winemaking into their homes. More recently, he has also assumed the role of trade MD of Pix UK. Mabray, as CEO of Pix based in California, helms the entire organisation.

Pix, launched last November, delivers a new way for winelovers to discover wines on the one hand and for wine producers to drive DtC sales on the other. The platform’s wine discovery engine is built on a wine catalogue gathered from retailers, wineries and DtC platforms. In addition to its next-level search engine capabilities, it reviews wines and offers articles from trusted voices in wine worldwide.

Mabray will cover the importance of logistics, distribution, and processes in creating a positive user experience. “That calls for investment in consumer-focused research and user experience development, as well as in research and development of sales and marketing tools. Only then can the industry use its greatest asset, wine tourism.”

Research body IWSR has projected that over the next five years, total beverage alcohol ecommerce sales across key global markets, including South Africa, are expected to grow by 66%, to reach more than US$42bn. By then, ecommerce is forecast to account for about 6% of all off-trade beverage alcohol volumes, compared to less than 2% in 2018.

Peter McAtamney, who leads Australia’s Wine Business Solutions and is a specialist on DtC wine business across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, is another offshore speaker. He benchmarks these southern hemisphere countries against global best practice.

Both Wesgro CMO Monica Iuel and Delta’s Jimmy Eichelgruen, who is sales director for Africa, Middle East and India, will also be talking, as will internationally respected wine commentator Michael Fridjhon. Others include Joshin Raghubar, founder of iKineo Ventures, Adbot and Explore Sideways; Prof David Priilaid of UCT’s School of Management Studies; Mac Mabindilala, founder and CEO of Pengo Insights; Estelle Lötter of Ripcord Promotions; and Shelly Fuller who is WWF’s South African programme manager for sustainable fruit and wine projects.

Several high-profile local wine personalities are also involved including Mike Radcliff representing Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Visit Stellenbosch; Adi Badenhorst, co-owner of A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines; Siwela Sweetness Masoga of Siwela Wines; Hein Koegelenberg, CEO of La Motte Wine Estate and Leopard’s Leap Wines; Dirk Human of Black Oystercatcher Vineyards; Hans Astrom of Klein Constantia; Andrew Douglas, owner of and CellarDirect; and Daphne Neethling of PaardenKloof Estate.