High-tech app takes visitors on cellar tour

Tourist Amanda Eames with Kim van Niekerk of Fusion Design and VoiceMap co-founder, Iain Manley.

Visitors to Groot Constantia can now have their own personal tour guide in their pocket as they explore the wine estate and learn the history of the place, with much of it told by the people who work there.

The idea is the brainchild of VoiceMap co-founder and CEO, Iain Manley.

This Bergvliet High School matriculant has created an app that allows you to go on a walking tour of the cellar, the historical house and the vineyards, and it’s all free and part of the Big Seven Tours.

VoiceMap’s app works on iOS and Android devices. It uses GPS to play audio automatically at the right time and place.

The company has over 300 audio tours in more than 100 cities worldwide. There are over 40 in Cape Town alone.

Iain majored in journalism and is an avid traveller. He spent a decade living in Asia and travelling overland (“By train, bus and car through 22 countries,” Bulletin June 23, 2011).

He was inspired to create the app after returning home and working on the audio tour on Cape Town’s open-top bus.

“If an encyclopaedia had a voice, it might sound like the type of tours you get on tourist buses,” said Iain at the recent launch of the Groot Constantia guided tours.

In developing the three tours at Groot Constantia, he spent over 10 hours interviewing people who either work on the farm or have a connection to it.

After choosing a route and plugging in headphones, put your phone in your pocket and walk as the audio plays.

The Vineyard Audio Guide starts at the entrance to Groot Constantia’s cellar and then goes around the manor house before entering vineyards with views across False Bay. It then ascends to a historic bath, located in a beautiful patch of garden.

Groot Constantia personalities – from CEO Jean Naude to viticulturist Floricus Beukes and winemaker Boela Gerber – also add insight into the estate and its history, culture and people.

The other tours are Cellar Audio Guide: From berry to barrel to bottle, and Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African wine.

Iain says all tours are published by informed, opinionated locals using the company’s open, free-to-use publishing tool.

VoiceMap provides each tour creator with an editor to help them make the most of automatic GPS playback.

The tour creator chooses what price they want to charge and where their tour is purchased, VoiceMap pays them royalties.

In the case of tours like Groot Constantia’s, which are free, the company charges a nominal hosting fee. The majority of paid tours cost between R30 and R100.

Iain says one of the most popular tours was the Endemic Project, an installation experience by film-maker and artist Bryan Little on Rhodes Drive which featured neon signs depicting species of animals and fynbos.

The other Big Seven attractions, include the Lighthouse Walk and Funicular Route at Cape Point; In-Queue Entertainment and Tabletop Walking Tour at the lower and upper cableway stations.

Once you have plugged in your headphones and tapped on start you can download everything using wi-fi and then use VoiceMap offline without incurring data costs.

VoiceMap, go to voicemap.me/create.