July 2022

Curating exceptional experiences – the architecture behind Singita's wine journey

in Experience

Curating exceptional experiences – the architecture behind Singita's wine journey

At Singita, our wine journey epitomises the intuitive service, attention to detail and unrivalled quality that spans our entire brand. It forms part of the overarching dedication to creating guest experiences that invite complete relaxation and enjoyment, and encourage being in the moment while surrounded by the continent’s natural beauty.

And as with all the memorable meals inspired by our farm-to-table food concept, each glass of wine is the result of months, even years of careful planning and meticulous care. An intricate process that comprises many steps – from masterful procurement to industry-leading standards for storage and freighting – the journey culminates at Singita’s lodge wine cellars and the beautifully curated wine menus, expert sommelier service and interactive pairings that unfold from here.

The Singita wine journey is a process spanning many years – that begins with procurement and ends with our impeccable sommelier service

An investment – quality takes patience and planning

To ensure that our wine experience reflects all of Singita’s ideals and our commitment to excellence, we are invested in the entire process – from procurement to storage, training and service.

It all starts at our dedicated Premier Wine Direct facility, based in Stellenbosch – a picturesque historical university town and the epicentre of South Africa’s wine industry. This is the hub of our wine operation and comprises a temperature and humidity-controlled maturation facility and temperature-controlled distribution system for every bottle that eventually makes its way to our lodges and camps. But the story begins even earlier. Many of our wines are carefully tasted, selected and purchased – some on auction or as individual barrels – years before they ever arrive at your table. “We choose and invest in wines on merit early on, and patiently wait until their maturation offers rewarding enjoyment before we send them to the lodges,” says François Rautenbach, Singita Premier Wine Direct’s General Manager.

To make this level of planning possible and guarantee that the wines are stored properly, our facilities need to be up to the task. To this end, and to streamline our processes, we recently moved our entire wine maturation to a new purpose-designed location within a completely repurposed warehouse complex, using the latest energy-efficient refrigeration technology. “This new facility is a game-changer – it’s worth every cent invested and makes the quality we want to achieve possible, while remaining true to our conservation values,” François adds.

Our wine storage facility and process makes use of sustainability conscious and cutting-edge tech and systems to guarantee the proper storage and transport of all our wines

The wine journey

With space for maturation, tasting and training, the new wine HQ demonstrates just how much forethought goes into this element of the guest experience. The incredible efficiency of the wine team also shows in the immaculate storage of the wine. “Christopher van de Rheede, our specialist storeman, individually goes through every bottle received, checking for packaging and labelling integrity,” says François.

Also reflecting Singita’s commitment to sustainability, re-used and repurposed materials are harnessed for packing and storage, while plastics and excess packaging are cut out. “The wine industry infamously uses thousands of kilometres of cling film every year. We’ve swapped that for reusable netting – some repurposed for our lodge-based storage and vehicle operations,” says François.

Once the wine leaves the storage facility, the complex logistical choreography begins. All consignments are transported in temperature-controlled vehicles – by road, air or sea – to property-based controlled storage, and then on to the lodge cellars. This relies on having the best partners and suppliers who we can trust to uphold quality control until the wines reach their final destination. “In one country we’ve had the same amazing import partner since 2007 – they unpack, tax label and repack 16,600 bottles directly on customs inspection within 24-hours while transiting onward to the Singita properties,” says Francois. Once the wine reaches its destination, and is settled into its new home, it is kept in purpose-designed, temperature-controlled cellars, to eventually be served by our expert teams.

WATCH Sommelier Alister Zengenene, who is based at Singita Volcanoes National Park epitomises the passion and constant desire to improve that makes our wine experience so rich

The personal touch & unforgettable memories

Singita’s engaging wine tastings and selections are organic extensions of our guest experience, which will serve to elevate their stay. But this journey doesn’t end after our guests leave. Life-long relationships are formed, and many guests who are captivated by our properties and service return. Many also want to order particularly memorable wines once they arrive back home – and here our wine consignment service plays its part in an ongoing relationship that allows guests to enjoy our superb wines wherever in the world they are based.

To ensure the wine is consistent and evokes just the same enjoyment, the transportation is crucial. Here, our impeccable storage and distribution once again come into effect – offering guaranteed provenance. The flexible service extends to numerous international destinations: guests are offered tailored quotes, rare horizontal or vertical vintage selections curated from years of close partnership with fine wine producers, and personalised recommendations – all arranged via consultation with François and the wine team.

But it also means we’ll have their favourites waiting for them when they return to our properties. “We have many guests who visit Singita multiple times. If they fall in love with a particular wine during their stay, we’ll do our best to have that same wine – even vintage – available for their next visit. It’s not always easy. But it’s worth it.”

By Julia Freemantle

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