Vini­cul­ture comes of age in SA

Our lo­cal wine in­dus­try is ma­tur­ing very nicely

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWINES -

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.”

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