The guessing game is over. After months of attempting to predict what impact the Western Cape’s ravaging drought was to have on the wine harvest, producers’ body Vinpro laid out the cards at an informative and comprehensive media briefing yesterday (8 May). South Africa’s wine cellars landed 1 220 920 tonnes of grapes – 15% less than 2017 – a figure that was initially expected to be even smaller. The grapes should convert to 948.3 million litres of juice and wine, calculated at an average recovery of 777 litres per ton of grapes.
Tourism remains the wine industry’s brightest star. This is where South Africa has showed tangible growth and added value. Those who have experienced tourist offerings in the winelands over the past two decades can attest to this: a while back a wine-tasting tourist was lucky to be offered a Cream Cracker to accompany a pouring done in the tractor shed.
No other agriculture body gives such a good Information Day as VinPro. And I’ve been to some – from ostriches to rooibos tea, farmed salmon to prickly pears. This year the South African wine industry’s official voice and representing body once again packed the Cape Town Convention Centre to the rafters, some of the 1 000 plus attendees having had to leave their farms at 04:00 to make it through the infamous inbound rush-hour traffic.
The seat is warmish, but not unfamiliar. Carina Gous, newly appointed chairperson of Wines of South Africa (Wosa) has spent the past two decades at the coalface of the South African wine industry. As Distell’s resident head of marketing strategy and brand management she lead the company’s wine portfolio with distinction, as well as becoming known as arguably South Africa’s leading wine marketing expert.
Anton Smuts from Robertson is the new chairman of VinPro, the organisation representing South Africa’s wine producers. WineGoggle went to have a drink and a chat with the new guy in the familiar old hot-seat.
Let’s not beat about the bush, it is about survival. And the only way the South African wine industry is going to survive is by once and for all finding ways to unlock value.
Media Release on Nedbank VinPro Information Day
The South African wine industry is going through some tough times, but sustainable growth is on the cards. What’s needed is a clear game plan, a stronger domestic market focus, ingenious marketing and a collective drive towards higher price points.
VinPro has given its full support to a plan of the Western Cape Government to rectify shortcomings with regard to farm worker housing, health and safety. The National Department of Labour, VinPro, Wieta and Fairtrade, together with Agri Western Cape resolved to collectively address challenges on wine farms.
This follows after an investigation by the National Department of Labour pointed out unacceptable worker conditions on certain wine farms. Concerned parties held a meeting yesterday at Agri Western Cape’s offices.
Rico Basson and Siobhan Thompson, CEO’s of VinPro and Wosa respectively, write about the troubled journey that is South African wine.
Recent depictions in the media of the South African wine industry as being rife with injustices are indeed disappointing. Our industry has made significant economic and social progress since joining global markets and has committed itself to achieving transformation and social development targets. There’s still a long row to hoe, but this is a journey that the industry and its stakeholders have embraced.
A lower grape crop due to extreme weather conditions. The national economy on the verge of collapse. Wine marketers who know diddly-squat about capturing the local and international market. The inability of producers to co-operate. Continued dependence on bulk-wine…..all that was needed at last week’s VinPro Information Day was an outbreak of phylloxera in the Cape Town Convention Centre and an impromptu strip-show by Dudu Miyeni to make the roof cave in.