Mike Ratcliffe is the 46-year old chairperson of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine route. The route makes a significant contribution to visitor numbers in the Cape Winelands, the Western Cape and South Africa, and Ratcliffe ensures that the drive through these winelands serves everyone in the community. He is passionate about wine, Stellenbosch, the wine route and its history, and the communities that it serves.
“I work with a mandate that aims to achieve social change first,” he says. “I also work with the Stellenbosch Wine Routes executive to handle the ongoing management of the region’s reputation as a desirable tourism and wine destination.”
Ratcliffe has a deep passion for wine tourism and is involved in both the local and global wine industry. He understands the potential of wine tourism when it comes to supporting an important part of the South African economy and tries to learn how to unlock its potential to benefit everyone. Ratcliffe has also built a reputation for having an innovative approach to marketing and this has seen him nominated twice for the USA Wine Star Award for Global Innovator of the Year.
“I am also the Africa Regional Chairman for the YPO wine network and have been a member of the board of the YPO wine network since 2010,” adds Ratcliffe.
For those who have not yet stepped out onto the Stellenbosch wine route, it is well worth a visit. Established in 1971, it was the first to create a route through an organised network of wineries where tourists could experience the product of the vine while tuning into the soul of the winelands. Today, it represents more than 200 wine and grape producers with more than 80 restaurants. It is the food and wine capital of South Africa and Mike Ratcliffe is one of people taking it to the world.