Wosa opts for Generic Selection

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If Wines of South Africa (Wosa) had a transparent communication procedure in place to tell us what exactly it is responsible for, the body’s activities would not be picking up more flak than a US air-force bomber over Dresden.

From training local restaurant personnel on wine-service to being responsible for generic marketing of SA wines internationally to saving the Greater Cape Chameleon; from embarrassing the image of the wine industry by blaming its financial woes on the Department of Trade and Industry to trying its hand at wine marketing through the abortive Fundi project, Wosa surprises the wine industry and its followers on a daily basis.

The latest cap Wosa has plucked from the hat-stand is that of Wine Procurement for the FIFA Confederations Cup which kicks off next month. That’s right, the marketing brains and logistical expertise of our multi-faceted industry-sponsored body will now assist the tournament organisers in sourcing a couple of thousand bottles of wine for the tournament’s Official Hospitality Programme.

In a newsletter Wosa thus calls for submissions from producers.

Whites: Un-wooded or lightly wooded Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc between R35 and R60 a bottle. Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage and red blends between R40 and R70 per bottle. (All in six bottle cases please.) And, oh yes, the wines will not be considered if they have not garnered a princely 3,5 Stars in the John Platter Wine Guide.

Should Wosa, whose primary function is to promote South African wine internationally, be tampering in the wine procurement business? No. And if the body’s constitution does make room for this, the industry should look at calling for an industry-led workshop to define exactly what it should be busying itself with. By involving itself in the business of rands and cents, this Section 21 Company is opening the door for some serious questions from those who find themselves precluded from the largesse.

But humility, an accommodating approach and communication do not count as Wosa’s most well-known attributes. Nor logic:

On the one hand Wosa moans at the lack of funds and manpower to tackle the American market. But when you turn your head it is performing laborious and logistically challenging wine-sourcing activities.

The 3,5 must-have Platter Stars is a further dim-witted approach as Platter’s representatives have always defended their inability to award Stars on the basis of blind-tasting by stating “we’re just a consumer guide, you know”.

Now the “guide” is determining, as in the case of this latest Wosa exercise, the financial well-being of a large amount of producers.

By stating that whites and reds vying for attention must have a price of R35 and R40 respectively, various stunning producers are excluded from the process. The list is too long to mention, but a R25 bottle of Paarl, Breedekloof or Orange River Chenin Blanc is not going to be scoffed at at anyone’s event. In fact, if Fifa’s Official Hospitality Programme was made aware of the excellent South African wines at the lower price-end, it may well decide to embark on a long-term relationship with the local wine industry.

And although the retail segment may sound sexier, Wosa should surely not forget its responsibility of promoting the South African wine industry in its entirety. It therefore has an obligation to allow all South Africa’s wine regions access to its little tendering exercise so as to give the Fifa hotnobs a taste of the full South African spectrum.

By pegging a price restriction Wosa has smartly made it nay impossible for wines from Olifant’s River and Oranjerivier to contend for the tender, as their prices are lower than the respective R35 and R40 limit.

Wosa is constantly moaning at the lack of recognition and assistance it receives in government circles. But this body should see the absence of government scrutiny as a blessing: even Julius Malema has enough brains to know that this organistion has overstayed its welcome in its current format.

The Editor

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