This year Jo Fountain was appointed Chief Judge for the Great Wine Capitals Network’s Best of Wine Tourism Awards. The Great Wine Capitals Network is a global network of nine major wine regions which span both the Old and New Worlds, including Bordeaux, Cape Town, Florence, San Francisco/Napa Valley. New Zealand is represented by the region of Christchurch/South Island, home to some 46% of New Zealand wineries.
As Chief Judge, Dr. Fountain travelled around the five wine regions of the South Island (Waipara, Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson, and Central Otago) judging the applicants in four categories: Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences, Wine Tourism Services, Wine Tourism Restaurants, and Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices. The winners were Northburn Station in the Innovative Wine Tourism category, Melton Estate for Best Wine Tourism Restuarant, Yealands Winery for Sustainable Wine Tourism, and Appellation Central Wine Tours for Wine Tourism Services. In addition to the regional award, Appellation Central was also awarded the international award in their category. The tour company was applauded for its individualized half and full day tours in Central Otago.
In addition to helping to increase national and international visibility of South Island wineries, the judging process itself proved a good opportunity for Dr. Fountain to engage wine industry professionals in discussion about the current state of wine tourism around the South Island and the challenges for the future.