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.daff.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.
France, Italy, Spain, Australia and Chile are the top 5 exporters of wine (ITC, 2018). South Africa was at position 12. The top importers were the US, UK, Germany, China and Canada.
- 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.winedirectory.org, “One of the largest resources of websites about wine and wineries on the Internet”
- 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).
- For advice on export opportunities, or to contact potential overseas agents or distributors, contact Wines of South Africa (WOSA) or visit www.wosa.co.za.
- For export statistics, international grape prices, certification, regulations and issuing of licenses, contact SAWIS or visit www.sawis.co.za.
- The ABSA Agricultural Outlook Summer Edition 2019 provides a useful overview of what is happening globally. Find it at www.absa.co.za/business/sector-solutions/agribusiness/agri-smart-insights.
- The annual BFAP Baseline looks at the export picture of South African wine. Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.
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, 2019).
Currently, some 3 029 farmers cultivate some 94 545 hectares of land under vines. 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 record drought in the Western Cape has not been good news for an industry which contributes over R36 billion to the economy via wine tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, trade and hospitality while generating direct and indirect employment for close to 300 000 people (SAWIS, 2019).
- Find “Some articles” under the last heading on this page for recent updates.
- Find the Vinpro South African Wine Harvest Report 2020 at https://vinpro.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/SA-Wine-Harvest-Report-2020_5May2020.pdf
- Find the “Information & statistics” option at www.sawis.co.za and the industry overview given by WOSA at www.wosa.co.za/The-Industry/Overview/.
- The BFAP Baseline includes wine and wine grapes in its projections. Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.
- The ABSA Agricultural Outlook Summer Edition 2019 provides a useful overview of what is happening in the sector. Find it at www.absa.co.za/business/sector-solutions/agribusiness/agri-smart-insights.
- Now in its 22nd edition, the SA Wine Industry Directory 2020 includes key organisations, producer-businesses, and brands in the industry. These range from boutique outfits, right through private cellars and estate wineries, to co-ops and producing wholesalers. See www.wineland.co.za.
- Find the latest PwC South African Wine Industry – Insights Survey at www.pwc.co.za/en/publications/wine-benchmarking-survey.html
- DALRRD’s A Profile of the South African Wine Market Value Chain includes a look at production areas, competitiveness of wine exports, entry barriers in some overseas markets and a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Find the document of the Directorate Marketing’s web pages at www.daff.gov.za.
Ethical trading, responsible alcohol consumption and socio-economic upliftment
- Association for alcohol responsibility and education (AWARE) https://aware.org.za
- Fairtrade Label South Africa www.fairtrade.org.za Supporting farmers and workers in developing countries (includes South Africa)
- Pebbles Project www.pebblesproject.co.za Enriching the lives of disadvantaged children and families in the Winelands farming communities
- Pinotage Youth Development Academy www.pyda.co.za Find “Pinotage Youth Development Academy – This is who we are!” on YouTube.
- Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (Wieta) www.wieta.org.za Promoting ethical trade in the wine industry value chain
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 “Economic Empowerment” option at www.thedti.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. Find the South African Wine Co-operatives Catalogue on the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition website, www.thedti.gov.za. The full colour document lists the empowerment brands and co-operatives in the wine industry and provides contact details.
- Black Association of the Wine & Spirit Industry (Bawsi) www.bawsi.org.za 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.
- SA Wine Industry Trust (Sawit) www.sawit.org.za Sawit focuses on transforming of the wine industry, setting up new producers from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, supporting and uplifting farm workers and their communities in the wine industry, and assisting new viticulturists with marketing and access to related services.
- VinPro Transformation & Development division Tel: 021 276 0429 phil [at] vinpro.co.za and/or unathi [at] vinpro.co.za 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) Tel: 021 276 0429 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.
- Find the inspiring story about Solms-Delta Wine Estate at www.solms-delta.co.za/our-story/.
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.
WWF-SA Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) Tel: 021 888 2843 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. Call 021 888 2843 or 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
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)
- Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance Division Liquor Products Tel: 021 809 1602 Find the Info Pak “Division Liquor Products” which informs on the responsibilities of this DALRRD division.
- Directorate: Food Import and Export Standards Tel: 012 319 7894 / 6247
- Manager: National Analytical Services: Tel: 021 809 1718 AlbertS [at] daff.gov.za
Find information on the Wine & Spirit Laboratory, Additives laboratory, Agricultural Products Standards Act, 1990 (Act No 119 of 1990), Export manual (for liquor products), Procedures to import liquor products on the Directorate Food Safety and Quality Assurance web pages at www.daff.gov.za.
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: 021 887 0117
- Wine and Spirit Board – for certification, government regulations: 021 889 6555
- WOSA – for export requirements: 021 883 3860 www.wosa.co.za
- South African Liquor Brand Owners’ Association (SALBA) Tel: 021 887 0117 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 Tel: 021 276 0429 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
- Cap Classique Producers’ Association (MCCPA) www.capclassique.co.za
- Cape Port Producers’ Association (CAPPA) www.capeportproducers.co.za
- Chardonnay Forum c/o Johann de Wet at Tel: 023 615 1853
- Chenin Blanc Association www.chenin.co.za
- Garagiste Movement www.garagiste.co.za
- Muscadel South Africa Email: winemaker [at] badsberg.co.za, andres [at] rooiberg.co.za
- Pinot Noir Interest Group info [at] stormwines.co.za
- Pinotage Association www.pinotage.co.za
- Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group http://sauvignonblanc.com
- Shiraz SA www.shirazsa.co.za
- SA Brandy Foundation www.sabrandy.co.za
Regional wine associations and wine routes
- Bot River Wine Route – www.botriverwines.com
- Breedekloof Wine and Tourism (Rawsonville) – www.breedekloof.com
- Calitzdorp Wine Route – www.calitzdorp.co.za
- Constantia Wine Route – www.botriverwines.com
- Darling Wine and Art Experience – www.darlingtourism.co.za
- Durbanville Wine Valley – www.durbanvillewine.co.za
- Wines of Elgin – https://winesofelgin.co.za
- Elim Wine Growers – http://elimwines.co.za
- Franschhoek Wine Valley – https://franschhoek.org.za
- Helderberg Wine Route – www.helderbergwineroute.co.za
- Hermanus Wine Route – http://hermanuswineroute.com
- Klein Karoo Wine Route – www.kleinkaroowines.co.za
- Oranjerivier wynroete – http://orangeriverwines.com
- Paarl Wine Farms – www.paarlonline.com/paarl-wine-farms
- Plett Winelands – www.plettwinelands.com
- Robertson Wine Valley – www.robertsonwinevalley.co.za
- Standford Wine Route – www.stanfordinfo.co.za
- Stellenbosch Wine Route – www.wineroute.co.za
- Swartland Wine & Olive Route – www.swartlandwineandolives.co.za
- Tulbagh Wine Route – www.tulbaghwineroute.com
- Wellington Wine Route – www.wellington.co.za
- West Coast Wine Route – www.namaquawestcoast.com/wine
- Worcester Wine and Olive Route – wwor.co.za
Other role players and associations
- Cape Vintners Classification (CVC) www.cvc1659.co.za The CVC is an independent body committed to the accreditation, governance, representation and promotion of distinctive regional site specific Cape wines.
- Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) www.capewinemakersguild.com
- Institute for Cape Wine Masters www.icwm.co.za The Institute runs tastings and other wine events.
- Old Vine Project (OVP) is a regulatory authority. Its Certified Heritage Vineyards seal on bottles of wine show vineyards of 35 years age or older. See http://oldvineproject.co.za.
- Rootstock SA Tel: 021 276 0458
- SA National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) and the Veritas Awards www.veritas.co.za
- South African Sommelier Association https://sommeliers.org.za The association aims “to provide training and mentorships to guarantee the continuous development of professional standards of the highest level”.
- Swartland Independent Producers https://swartlandindependent.co.za
Find other associations and NGOs under the “Industry issues” sub-heading heading earlier.
Education and training
- Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT) Food Technology Tel: 021 959 6176 / 6236 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 Tel: 021 808 7709 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 Tel: 011 253 7300 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 Tel: 021 880 1275/6 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 Tel: 021 808 4545 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 Tel: 021 808 3770 iwbt [at] sun.ac.za 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 Tel: 021 300 0117 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 Tel: 021 809 3100 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 Protection Research Dr Dariusz Goszczynski at GoszczynskiD [at] arc.agric.za Research on vineyard pests
- Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences (IGWS) http://igws.co.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/wine_biotechnology 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 Tel: 021 872 1831 plantpom [at] iafrica.com 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 Tel: 021 276 0429 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.
Websites and publications
- 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 presentations given at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)/Agbiz Water Efficiency in Agri-processing Workshop (2019, March 25). In December 2019, the IFC/Agbiz event was finalised as a report which can also be found on www.agbiz.co.za.
- 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.daff.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.
- Thinking about wine (Robert Joseph), www.thewinethinker.com
- John Platter Wine Guide, www.platteronline.com
- Brandt K. 2020, April 21. “Up to 40k wine industry farmworkers stand to be affected by lockdown regulations”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2020/04/21/up-to-40k-wine-industry-farmworkers-stand-to-be-affected-by-lockdown-regulations
- Brandt K. 2020, April 21. “Lockdown sees SA wine industry losing R200m a week on exports”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2020/04/21/lockdown-sees-sa-wine-industry-losing-r200m-a-week-on-exports
- Faku D. 2020, April 19. “Wine industry ready to oppose government’s restriction on movement of liquor”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/wine-industry-ready-to-oppose-governments-restriction-on-movement-of-liquor-46843479
- Arnoldi M. 2020, February 10. “Wine grape producers’ profitability improving, but some are still struggling”. Engineering News. Available at www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/wine-grape-producers-profitability-improving-but-some-are-still-struggling-2020-02-10
- Reuters. 2020, January 28. “Wine regions face dramatic shrink with climate change: study”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2020/01/28/wine-regions-face-dramatic-shrink-with-climate-change-study
- Bulbulia T. 2020 January 24. “South African wine industry bullish despite tough environment”. Engineering News. Available at www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/south-african-wine-industry-bullish-despite-tough-environment-2020-01-24
- Brandt K. 2020 January 23. “Drought, tough economy hurt SA wine sales”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2020/01/23/drought-tough-economy-hurt-sa-wine-sales
- Reporter. 2019, October 9. “Unpacking SA consumers’ in-store wine selection”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/168/196472.html
- Kriel, G. 2019, February 21. “Hedging market and climate risks on a family wine farm”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/hedging-market-and-climate-risks-on-a-family-wine-farm/
- Reporter. 2019, January 23. “WoSA export report shows positive growth of SA wine internatioally”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/1/786/186533.html
- Arnoldi, M. 2019, January 22. “Wine export values rise despite drought, lower volumes”. Engineering News. Available at www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/wine-export-values-rise-despite-drought-lower-volumes-2019-01-22
- Reporter. 2018, October 21. “SA signs wine labelling protocol”. SANews. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/sa-signs-wine-labelling-protocol
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