After five months of Covid-19 restrictions, over 90% of South African wineries are now in trouble. The South African Wine Industry needs your help!
Unlike in the U.S., the production, distribution, and selling of wine was NOT considered an “essential service” in South Africa. On March 27, the first lockdown was implemented banning all production, movement, distribution, exporting and selling of wine and alcohol. It wasn’t until the middle of August that the final ban on alcohol was lifted.
Vinpro estimates that the entire wine industry, which consists of 2,778 wine grape producers and 533 wineries, could lose more than 80 wineries, 350 wine grape producers and 18,000 jobs over the next 18 months.
It is estimated that wine tourism was impacted with a $145M revenue loss.
Rico Basson, Managing Director of Vinpro, says:
“The wine industry is sitting on 300 million liters surplus and an impending harvest, which will add to the challenges the industry already faces.”
Three Centuries of Cape Wine
The South African wine industry is linked to the explorations of the Dutch East India Company, which established a supply station in Cape Town. Dutch surgeon and first Governor of the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck, produced the first wine from Cape grapes in 1659.
However, it wasn’t until the French Huguenots settled in the Cape between 1680-1690 that the wine industry began to flourish. They brought with them established wine making techniques, and also their culture which left a permanent impression on Cape life.
Today, old world wine techniques are blended with new world techniques using “flying winemakers” from France, Spain and California. Moreover, over 95% of the South African wine industry follows sustainable wine-growing and winemaking principles indicated by an integrity and sustainability seal on the neck of the wine bottle.
Climate and Wine-growing Areas
The Cape Winelands topography ranges from coastal regions, to open plains, and rugged mountains. The climate in the various regions range wildly making it home to one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. It includes coastal influences, intense sunlight, and dry heat.
Notable Wine Districts
- Franschhoek Valley
Flagship Grape Varietals
Chenin Blanc, best known as the white grape of France’s Loire Valley, is South Africa’s signature white grape. It is the most planted white grape in South Africa.
Pinotage originated in South Africa and is the country’s flagship red grape varietal. The cross between the robust Hermitage (or Cinsaut) and difficult to grow Pinot Noir was created by the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University (Abraham Izak Perold) in 1925.
Popular Wine Styles
The Cape Winelands produced world famous and highly sought-after sweet wines (or “stickies”) in the 18th and 19th century, until phylloxera decimated the vines. Sweet wines are still produced today, similar in style to Port, but without the clout they once had.
Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) are sparkling wines made in the champagne method (traditional bottle fermented) in South Africa. These wines are of exceptional value.
How you can support?
Buy South African Wine!
Purchase a South African Wine Bundle, or select a few bottles, to begin exploring South African wine. Click here.
Follow SaveSAWine.co.za on Instagram or Facebook for the #60in60 program featuring one South African producer a day for 60 days.
In my next article
Learn more about my love affair with South Africa and their wines on Oct 14.
Photos courtesy Stephanie Roberts
Stephanie Roberts, WSET® Certified, is passionate about educating people about wine and all its complexities. She believes that through education comes enlightenment and approachability – elevating the wine and food experience. Stephanie offers unique and tailored wine experiences.
Wine education and topic-driven tastings are now available virtually and in-person for private groups. Choose to attend a scheduled class such as the 4-part Wine Education Series or customize a session to your specific interests. Corporate happy hours (virtual for now) are also available. Contact Stephanie directly through FB, IG or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reserve your spot at a public event through FB (@Corks&Boards) or Eventbrite.