Viniculture comes of age in SA
Our local wine industry is maturing very nicely
Today we are so spoilt for choice that it’s easy to forget it’s only recently that we could contemplate such a plethora of Cape bubblies, both non-vintage affordable sparklers and Cap Classiques.
Rosés are in demand, as our winemakers respond to the international trend toward fruity but dry quaffers in salmon hues. Then there’s the strictly local vogue for wines with barista character, mostly pinotage, but also including other varietals as winemakers introduce coffee and chocolate flavours.
The great white blend is another genre in which we can excel. They are not all in the top price range either. Like our best sauvignons and chardonnays, it’s possible to find affordable white blends that are great now, but will age gracefully in good Old World style. Another area that is attracting increasing consumer interest is the growing number of organic wines, whose quality has also soared.
As green issues increase in importance, the good news is our wine industry is way ahead on several fronts: in 2004 the Biodiversity Wine Initiative was instigated as a partnership between the wine industry and the conservation sector. Promoted by marketing organisation Wosa, it has been so successful that the area conserved by wine farms now totals more than our vineyard footprint.
Not to be overlooked is the establishment of nearly 20 Cape wine routes, most of them well organised and responsive to tourism trends. Other visitors relish hunting down hidden gems, boutique and garagiste cellars that offer unique charms.
On the down side, problems such as over-production, grape prices that are not viable, a stagnant local market and an overtraded global one are obstacles that challenge far mers and producers both here and abroad.
As the final days of the 350th anniversary of the South African wine industry play out amid smouldering fynbos and a harvest that promises to be tricky, the vinous state of play seems to confirm the answer to that much-quoted question: “How does one go about making a small fortune through wine farming?”
Answer: “Start with a large one.”