Beijing Wine Tasting
Esteemed Government officials from the Chinese Government
Officials from the South Africa Embassy
Importers, wholesalers and retailers
South African wine producers and exporters
Members of the press
Ladies and gentlemen
Welcome to our second South African wine tasting in Beijing. It is a pleasure to see so many people interested in the unique South African wine story. Allow me to convey Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille's apologies for not being able to be here. She planned to travel to Beijing for this occasion, but due to the ill health of President Mandela could unfortunately not leave South Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa and the Western Cape Province have a proud history with China. The Western Cape and Shandong Province are celebrating 15 years of bilateral relations this year. We have participated in our third Yantai International Wine Exposition, and this is our second Beijing Wine Tasting.
We consider all of you to be friends of South Africa and South African wine. In your guest bag, you will find a South African friendship bracelet. This bracelet is part of a project to support skills development in South Africa and to raise funds for a charity called Pebbles who runs crèches on our wine farms. Please wear this bracelet with pride and spread friendship through wine.
It was my pleasure to travel from Shanghai to Beijing by train on Tuesday morning. Along the way I saw landscape upon landscape of beautifully planted trees. I also saw people caring for these trees. I believe people who plant trees and nurture them are people who believe in the future: We plant trees for our children to enjoy. May our relationship also grow like a tree. And may our children enjoy the fruits of our work here today.
I would like to make it very clear that the Western Cape is serious about its relationship with China and Shandong. We are honoured to have Shandong as our sister province. Our commitment to this relationship is expressed through our regular visits and with the warm friendships which are being established on a personal level. This fact was once again made clear to me when Jian Wan Zhi, Vice Mayor of Yantai, greeted me with open arms like a long-lost brother when we arrived in Yantai for this year’s exposition.
But ladies and gentlemen, in the same manner that we are proud of our bilateral history with China and Shandong; so we are proud of our Western Cape wine making history. Since 1659 wine has been made in our province. For the past 350 years our wine makers have been passionately working to craft wines to reflect the stunning natural environment from where it originates. We hope our wine will provide you with the same warmth as our friendship.
We are very proud of our wine. We believe South African wine is the best quality wine in the world. We guarantee excellent quality at a good price. We guarantee safe and healthy wine. We are the only wine producing country in the world which can trace each and every bottle we produce back to its origins in the vineyard.
We have much to offer. Due to our unique natural landscape, we can craft many different styles of wine. We are making heavy old world red wines, but also fruity and easy to drink new world red and white wines. This diversity makes our industry strong and it inspires us to improve with no end in sight.
Friends, also allow me to say a few words about the South African people who make these special wines.
Our winemakers, wine farmers and farm workers are well-trained and passionate about wine. When they go to bed at night, they talk about wine. When they wake up in the morning, they talk about wine. They love wine, and they love sharing our wine with you.
I want to invite China and Shandong Province to walk with us. Let us continue to improve and deepen our friendship. Let wine be the glue that binds us together.
I also want to invite you to come and visit us and experience South Africa for yourself. Come and enjoy our abalone together with our white wine while you watch whales in Hermanus. Or enjoy our red wine on one of our Big Five game reserves with the sounds of roaring lions that fills the air. Come and drink our sparkling wine when you are at the top of Table Mountain.
But dear Chinese friends: if you cannot visit South Africa in the near future, you can already experience our country through drinking our wine. You will see and hear the whales and you will be excited and thrilled by the lions simply by opening a bottle of South African wine together with good friends.
As the old saying goes, "the oceans of the world separate us, but wines of the world bring us together."