Saturday, July 23, 2005

Vilafonté Vineyards 'Luxury' Tour of America - Day 2


20 July 2005
by Zelma Long & Mike Ratcliffe
A visit to the nation's capital. Today's column is written by Zelma Long & Mike Ratcliffe.
The South African category in the United States is tiny and there is a huge amount of work to be done to raise awareness of our inherent quality. In the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, we spent a few fascinating hours introducing Vilafonté to one of the most influential retailers in the United States. This wine store is a high-end and trophy wine-hunters delight. With hundreds of the worlds top wines on display, an average customer spend of $80 per bottle and over $900 per visit, this is a man who is highly qualified to comment on South Africa's status. Although he is very knowledgeable, South African wine represented a small proportion of his store and is an 'underdeveloped category'. There is a lot of work to be done by the high-end wineries to develop a culture of fine SA wine in the USA.It is clear that more and more people are experimenting with wines from around the world. There is an international wine culture developing and this creates a great opportunity for us.Because of the oppressive 30°C+ temperatures, we are forced to fly a detour route and our short flight to DC becomes a bit more tedious. With Hurricane Emily brewing in Texas, we count our blessings. After the success of Chicago, we are buoyed by the prospect of visiting the Capital city, Washington DC, the centre of political power and wealth in the world. Our hotel is so close to the White House that the US's might is very tangible!DC has the highest concentration of international embassies in the world and is a prime target market for Vilafonté and for South African wine in general. We are very pleased to hear that wine sales in DC are booming and growing at over 20% annually with our particular distributor - and they are very pro South Africa.Dinner was at the celebrated La Chaumiere with a group of key influencers and distributors. It was an amazing five-course experience. After a late night with too much wine, we will split up in the morning to visit some of the more influential retailers and trend-setting restaurants. It has been a long day...http://www.vilafonte.com/
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