Speech delivered by Minister Gerrit van Rensburg, MEC for Agriculture in the Western Cape,,at the Celebration of Chardonnay, De Wetshof Estate, 12 November 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to say a few words today. Let me begin by saying it is always such a pleasure to drive through your area., It is very obvious that a lot of effort goes into the general upkeep and maintenance of the Robertson rural area, and you can be truly proud of the end product: Beautiful wine in a beautiful environment.
A special word of welcome to our guests from Burgundy: Jean-Charles de la Moriniere, and Remington Norman. You are all well aware of the very successful exchange programme that exists between the Western Cape and Burgundy. Danie, I know you have sent two of your workers on this exchange so far. This tells me that there is value in the programme for our wine industry. We will host a special event next year where I will invite all workers who have been on this exchange over the past ten years. For many of them, it has proven to be a life changing experience, with careers that simply sky rocketed as a result.
I was also fortunate to attend this year’s programme in Burgundy, and I am pleased to be able to announce that we have extended it for another 5 years.
Some observations I made while in France: I was impressed by the attention that went into small detail in order to make the best possible wine. If a small parcel of land is perfect for a specific variety; then that is all you will find there. It is this attention to detail and focused drive for perfection that has earned Burgundy its stature in the international wine world.
And this brings me to Danie De Wet, wine farmer from the Western Cape and the Robertson wine region. You are also known for the same characteristics that has made Burgundy famous. Your efforts have contributed significantly to making Robertson famous for Chardonnay.
,Thank you for this example, and know that the high standards you apply towards yourself, serves as an example and inspiration to others in the industry.
Ladies and gentlemen, earlier this week the Western Cape Cabinet had a meeting with representatives of the agricultural sector in our province. The importance of the wine industry was very prominently mentioned by the Premier in her address, as well as the various challenges the wine industry is currently faced with. And let us be honest with one another: Wine is a very tough industry to be in at the moment.
There is no market sympathy for a product that is associated with good times and celebration. The wine industry simply has to take the tough times on the chin and maintain a positive and successful image, even when it might not be the case.
But, then it is also true that in times of adversary, excellence will always survive. And today’s celebration of Chardonnay is in reality a celebration of excellence. So even if markets have no sympathy for current difficult times, the best in the industry can still make us forget our own unique problems; rewind; relax, while being in the company of good wine and the people whose skill produced it.
I started this morning with an observation on the general beauty and good upkeep of the Robertson countryside., You all know that a wine farm and its tasting venue need to be immaculate in order to create that feeling of success that is necessary for wine sales. I want to expand this idea to our province as a whole: Let us present it to the rest of the country and the world as an immaculate destination that is open for business: A confidant and successful enterprise.
A simple measure, that will go a long way, would be to demolish old ruins that are visible from our highways. These ruins make our beautiful countryside look desolate and run down, even though many of them are situated on otherwise sound and profitable farms.
Ladies and gentlemen, I conclude: Let us enjoy and celebrate the art of making good wine. Let us celebrate one another’s company, as it gives us strength in difficult times. And let us celebrate the good times that awaits us in the future.
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