Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

CAPE TOWN — By the end of next year travellers passing through Cape Town International Airport will be able to buy a two-year old Merlot made at the airport.

The small winery was built at a cost of R200,000 and is part of a programme the Airports Company SA (Acsa) is running to enhance the travelling experience.

The cellar will be able to produce about 700 bottles of Merlot wine every two years. The wine production, a first at a South African airport, forms part of the airport’s "ambience project", which aims to capture some of the major attractions of the Western Cape to give passengers a sense of the city.

The airport has also set up SA’s first airport book exchange library, known as flybrary, opened earlier this year. About R185,000 was spent on setting it up.

The Cape Town airport, which deals with just more than 8-million passengers a year, earlier this year was named the best in Africa by Airports Council International for service quality.

According to Acsa, ambience is also something against which the airport is measured.

Cape Town International says that it decided to make its own wine with the help of the Du Preez Wine Estate because the Western Cape is one of the wine capitals of the world.

The airport will be fermenting and producing its own wine in the small cellar built in the international arrivals hall, with bottling taking place at the end of 2015. The barrels are already on the premises and passengers can visit the cellar to get a view of the wine-making process.

Lukas O’Connell, the marketing manager for the Du Preez estate, said the estate was helping the airport for free in a bid to help market South African wine and tourism.

Cape Town International Airport spokeswoman Deidre Davids said Du Preez had also assisted with getting the necessary clearance so that the wine could be produced and bottled at the airport.

The ambience project started last year and has a budget of R4m. The project has seen, among other things, the creation of a 58m-long mural of Nelson Mandela’s life story. An almost to scale replica of Mr Mandela’s cell has also been constructed at the airport.