The Cape wine-growing areas, situated in the narrow viticultural zone of the southern hemisphere, mainly have a Mediterranean climate. The mountain slopes and valleys form the ideal habitat for the wine grape Vitis vinifera, the products of which have given pleasure to humankind for many centuries. Long, sun-drenched summers and mild, wet winters contribute to the ideal conditions for viticulture. The Western Cape produces over 90% of South Africa’s wines.

The wine industry in South Africa goes beyond what is usually understood by the word “wine”. Brandy and its building blocks – rebate wine and distilling wine – as well as grape juice and its concentrate are included, as wine grapes are used to produce all these.

The products below all are relevant to this page.

  • Natural wine is non-fortified and non-sparkling wine. It also includes any grape juice or must and grape juice or must concentrate used in the sweetening of such natural wine.
  • Fortified wine is non-sparkling wine which has been fortified with wine spirit and has a higher alcohol level than natural wine.
  • Sparkling wine which includes any grape juice or must and grape juice or must concentrate used in the sweetening of such sparkling wine.
  • Rebate wine is wine specially prepared for double distillation in a copper pot still and then, as distillate, maturation for a period of at least three years in oak casks with a capacity of not more than 340 litres.
  • Distilling wine is wine specially prepared for distillation to spirits intended for use in other spirits, for fortification of wine or for industrial purposes.
  • Non-alcoholic refers to unfermented, undiluted or concentrated juice from grapes destined for use in non-alcoholic products such as fruit juices.

The wine industry is an important contributor to the economy of the Western Cape region of South Africa. Perhaps, even more important than the direct economic impact of employment and foreign exchange generation is the unique position of wine (and to some extent wine tourism) in generating images of South Africa abroad.

Source: A Profile of the South African Wine Market Value Chain, available at www.dalrrd.gov.za. 

 

Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture. It is one branch of the science of horticulture.

Oenology (Enology – US English) is the science of wine and winemaking i.e. after vine-growing and grape harvesting.

International overview

South Africa is the world’s seventh biggest producer of wine, which equates to 4% of the total world volume. The top three (Italy, France and Spain) combined produced 52.4% of the total in 2020 and have all seen year on year increases in production to the extent of 3%, 11% and 21% respectively. On the consumption side, the US, France and Italy are the biggest consumers of wine, with 35.1% of total consumption.

Source: Bureau for Food & Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2021-2030

Further reference:

  • Find the statistics menu option at www.oiv.int, website of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin – OIV).
  • A global overview is given in the annual Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline. Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.
  • World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) www.wwtg-gmcv.org
  • www.winespectator.com, wine ratings, features etc
  • www.decanter.com, wine reviews, news and more
  • www.wineanorak.com, “Jamie Goode’s online wine magazine”

 

South Africa: imports and exports

All wines for export must be granted an export licence. Samples of each batch of wine destined for foreign countries are sent to the Wine & Spirit Board at Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch where they undergo detailed tasting tests and chemical analysis in the laboratories before licenses are granted. An official seal is given to each bottle by the Wine & Spirit Board, which verifies that the claims made on the label regarding origin, vintage and grape variety are true.

The South African Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS) South African Export Report breaks down exports into Export and Packaged Export, and then lists top countries by value of exports and then by volume of exports (million litres).

Further reference:

 

Local business environment

Beer accounts for 75% of the total alcoholic beverage consumption in South Africa. Alcoholic fruit beverages and spirit coolers (e.g. Smirnoff Spin) come in second at 12 percent. Wine at 10% is in third place, while spirits (gin, brandy, liqueurs, whisky and rum) account for 3% and lie in fourth place (SAWIS, 2020). A comprehensive plan called the Wine Industry Strategy Exercise (WISE) project seeks to increase the domestic consumption of wine to at least 450 million litres by the 2024/25 Marketing Year.

Currently, some 2 693 farmers cultivate some 92 005 hectares of land under vines (WOSA, 2021). The main wine grape producing areas are Worcester, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Malmesbury, Robertson, the Olifants River, the Orange River and the Little Karoo. A description of the wine-growing areas can be read at www.wosa.co.za/The-Industry/Winegrowing-Areas/Winelands-of-South-Africa.

An extensive distribution network of wholesalers and retailers, as well as co-operative cellars, estates and other organisations which market wine directly ensure that wine products reach consumers around the country. The huge increase in trade and consumer shows, wine festivals, food and wine festivals and regional festivals has also created an important channel though which wine can be brought directly to the consumer.

The three-year long drought in the Western Cape and the COVID-19-related lockdown restrictions and outright bans on wine sales have not been good news for an industry which contributes R55 billion to the economy via wine tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, trade and hospitality while generating direct and indirect employment for around 269 096 people (SAWIS, 2021).

The BFAP Baseline 2021-2030 includes a mini study “Quantifying the Impact of Trade Restrictions on the South African Wine Industry in 2020” (see Box 11). Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.

Further reference:

 

INDUSTRY ISSUES

 

Lockdown and recovery

  • The US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service’s report “South Africa Lifts Ban on Alcohol Sales and Distribution” (August 2020) looked at the loss caused by South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown. Find it on https://apps.fas.usda.gov.
  • Read other articles giving perspective on this subject under the “Websites and publications” heading later on this page.

 

Ethical trading, responsible alcohol consumption and socio-economic upliftment

 

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE)

The Wine Industry Transformation Charter is regarded by government as a sub-charter of the AgriBEE Charter. It includes scorecards, guidelines and commitment statements from all role players in the wine industry, including the government, to work towards the sustainable implementation of black economic empowerment, land reform and transformation in the wine industry. Find the “B-BBEE” option at www.thedtic.gov.za.

As part of the industry’s commitment to black economic empowerment, transformation and land reform, government, together with organisations, individual producers and related businesses, are actively involved in setting up new producers from historically disadvantaged groups, supporting and uplifting farm workers and their communities, assisting new producers with regard to marketing and access to related services, and offering training.

  • Black Association of the Wine & Spirit Industry (Bawsi) BAWSI agitates for the improvement of living conditions of people living on farms and empowerment within this industry.
  • The Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) has several initiatives like Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme (Oenology and Viticulture), Bursaries for Final Year and Post-Graduate Oenology and Viticulture Students, Wine Training South Africa and the mentorship programme Circle of Excellence. Read about these at www.capewinemakersguild.com/development-trust.
  • The Wine Arc https://thewinearc.co.za A “brand home for black-owned wine brands and entrepreneurs and a symbol of South Africa’s wine industry transformation”
  • VinPro Transformation & Development division www.vinpro.co.za This section of VinPro strives to be a one-stop service – a central point producers can contact when they become involved in B-BBEE.
  • SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (WITU) https://witu.co.za The aim of WITU is “to generate and promote equitable access and participation within the wine value chain in and for the wine industry”. This is the first of nine bullet points. Read more on the website.

 

Environmental issues

South African wine producers are increasingly aware of the importance of protecting indigenous plant species and environmentally friendly viticulture, and this is used as a unique marketing tool in overseas markets, where consumers are showing a marked preference for wines produced under environmentally friendly conditions.

The Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) is a technical system for sustainable wine production, covering the wine industry as a whole. One of the main principles of the IPW system is that production should be in harmony with nature. The system was created in 1998 and published in accordance with the Liquor Products Act 60 of 1989. It includes guidelines and recommendations on what should be done, as well as minimum standards. See www.ipw.co.za.

Sustainable Wine South Africa (SWSA) www.wosa.co.za/swsa/en/Overview/ Find “A new seal for South African wines, a world first” on YouTube.

WWF-SA The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) is a partnership concluded by the South African wine industry and the conservation sector with a view to reducing further encroachment upon the endangered natural habitat to a minimum and contributing to sustainable wine production by accepting guidelines on biodiversity. Visit www.wwf.org.za for more information.

Explore South African WWF Conservation Champion wine farms using the Android or iOS app at http://championwineguide.co.za.

 

 

 

National strategy and government contacts

On the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) website, https://www.dalrrd.gov.za/, find information on and contact details for the following directorates:

  • Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance Division Liquor Products. Read the Info Pak “Division Liquor Products” which informs on the responsibilities of this DALRRD division.
  • Directorate: Food Import and Export Standards
  • Manager: National Analytical Services

Information includes the Agricultural Products Standards Act, 1990 (Act No 119 of 1990), an Export manual (for liquor products), and Procedures to import liquor products.

Regulations and legislation

You are invited to contact the following for information on how regulations and legislation impact the wine industry:

  • South African Liquor Brand Owners’ Association (SALBA) – for customs and excise duty, liquor licensing https://salba.co.za
  • Wine and Spirit Board – for certification, government regulations: 021 889 6555
  • WOSA – for export requirements: www.wosa.co.za 

Associations involved

  • South African Liquor Brand Owners’ Association (SALBA) https://salba.co.za SALBA represents manufacturers and distributors of liquor products on issues of common interest e.g. lobbying government on regulatory matters.
  • South African Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS) supports the wine industry through the collection, analysis and dissemination of industry information, and the administration of the industry’s Wine of Origin system. Visit www.sawis.co.za.
  • VinPro www.vinpro.co.za VinPro represents wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders on issues that have an impact on the profitability and sustainability of its members and the industry as a whole e.g. technical expertise and specialised services ranging from soil science to viticulture, agricultural economics and transformation and development.
  • Wines of South Africa (WOSA) represents producers of wine who export their products and is recognised by government as an Export Council. Visit www.wosa.co.za.
  • Winetech operates as a network of participating institutions and individuals to support the wine industry with research and technology transfer. See www.winetech.co.za.
  • Vinpro and Salba also maintain a WineBiz desk from the offices of Agbiz in Pretoria. See www.agbiz.co.za.

Cultivar development groups

Regional wine associations and wine routes

Other role players and associations

Find other associations and NGOs under the “Industry issues” sub-heading heading earlier.

Education and training

  • Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT) Food Technology www.cput.ac.za National Diplomas in agriculture and agricultural management, as well as BTech Crop Production (viticulture and oenology) and MTech degrees (viticulture only).
  • Cape Wine Academy www.capewineacademy.co.za A wide range of courses, from appreciation to an in-depth knowledge of wine, are offered at different levels to the public, tertiary institutions for hospitality and tourism, and traders in the liquor industry.
  • Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute www.elsenburg.com B Agric en B Agric degrees (Cellar Technology, and a Diploma (Cellar Technology) comprising wine chemistry, microbiology, oenology, marketing, legislation and management.
  • FoodBev Seta www.foodbev.co.za FoodBev is the SETA responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector.
  • South African Agri Academy www.agriacademy.co.za Practical training in the industry, focusing on strategic market access and exports, and mentorships for emerging producers in the wine industry.
  • Stellenbosch University (i) Dept of Viticulture & Oenology www.sun.ac.za Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Agriculture, Agricultural Administration and the opportunity to specialise in Viticulture and Oenology. (ii) Institute for Wine Biotechnology  www.sun.ac.za/wine_biotechnology Postgraduate studies in Agriculture or Viticulture and Wine Biotechnology from an honours degree to a doctorate. This is part of the Department of Viticulture & Oenology.
  • Wine Training South Africa www.winetrainingsa.co.za Workshops and accredited training
  • Winetech www.winetech.co.za See note under “Associations involved”

Research and development

Several institutions and research bodies undertake important research, and the knowledge gleaned from this is ploughed back into the industry in the form of journals, magazines, and presentations at information days or farmers’ days. Producers pay a statutory levy, part of which is allocated to research. Government institutions, private businesses, financial institutions and so forth also contribute financially.

  • ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij www.arc.agric.za A world-renowned, one-stop research facility for industries such as deciduous fruit, grapes, wine, brandy and several others. The campus supplies a needs-driven service in order to ensure the economic viability and growth of these industries, and research is strictly focused on practical implementation.
  • ARC-Plant Health and Protection Dr Dariusz Goszczynski at GoszczynskiD [at] arc.agric.za Research on vineyard pests
  • Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences (IGWS) www.sun.ac.za A joint venture between the South African wine and table grape industries and Stellenbosch University to enhance the international competitiveness of the wine and table grape industries.
  • Institute for Wine Biotechnology (IWBT) www.sun.ac.za Research is done on the genetic improvement of wine ferments, bacteria and wine grape cultivars.
  • SA Society for Enology and Viticulture (SASEV) www.sasev.org To serve as a forum for presenting the latest scientific information to all South African wine and grape producers to improve the quality of South African wines and related products, and to make this technology available internationally.
  • Vine Improvement Association https://plantsa.co.za/en/via/ Manages the South African Plant Certification Scheme for Wine Grapes as provided by the Plant Improvement Act 53 of 1976. Plant improvement occurs uniformly by applying regulations regarding vine cultivation and the selection, evaluation, testing and release of viticultural material.
  • VinPro www.vinpro.co.za Research projects are conducted, usually with the producer in mind. Technology is also made available by the VinPro Consultation Service via its regional viticultural consultants, soil scientist and oenologist.

Companies involved

The South African Wine Industry Directory include lists of companies and co-operatives. See www.wineland.co.za for details.

Websites and publications

Refer to the websites and publications listed earlier on this page like www.sawis.co.za and www.vinpro.co.za.

  • Visit the Wine Farms South Africa website, www.sa-wine-farms.co.za/portal.
  • In addition to the South African Wine Industry Directory, WineLand Media also does other publications like WineLand and the VinPro Cost Guide. Visit www.wineland.co.za for more information.
  • Documents like the Certification Manual and Labelling guide for South African wine are available from SAWIS. Find details at www.sawis.co.za.
  • Find details of the South African Journal for Enology and Viticulture at www.journals.ac.za/index.php/sajev.
  • A series of full colour pamphlets from the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij discusses how to identify, control and prevent various diseases and pests in the vineyard. Call 021 809 3100.
  • Order online at www.arc.agric.za, call 012 842 4017 or send an email to stoltze [at] arc.agric.za for the following publication, available from the ARC Agricultural Engineering: Agro-processing of fermented beverages –Wine.
  • Find the annual Industrial Products: Wine Market Value Chain or “A Profile of the South African Wine Market Value Chain” on the DALRRD’s Directorate Marketing’s web pages at www.dalrrd.gov.za.
  • Find the Nation in Conversation overview of the wine and whisky industry (Jan 2017) on YouTube.
  • Read about (and order) The Wine Kingdom: Celebrating conservation in the Cape winelands at www.wwf.org.za.
  • Find books like Biodynamic Wine Guide 2011 and Biodynamic Wine-Growing: Theory and Practice: A Practical Guide to the Theory and Practice of Biodynamic Wine-Growing by Monty Waldin on www.amazon.com and Google Books.
  • “Buy wine direct from the cellar”, https://cellardirect.co.za
  • The Wine Farmer, an online shop selling “some of the best family wines” www.thewinefarmer.co.za.

 

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