Bulletin from South Africa

Cape Wine 2008 was South Africa’s fifth biennial industry show. I thought it was very well organized with social events, seminars and wine tastings at producer stands plus individual vineyard visits smoothly orchestrated for a large number of trade visitors from around the world and the international press. The group from India included importers, wine writers and consultants. SI editor, Reva K Singh was there. southafricameerlust1.jpg

Pictured above is an aerial view of Meerlust Estate.

Encompassing virtually all the country’s wine exporters, this year’s Show was significantly larger, with winemakers ranging from the large corporates to smaller independent producers, negociants and garagistes.
Among the varied spectrum of wines exhibited there was both originality of taste and uniqueness of origin. The wine industry’s slogan, Variety is in Our Nature underscores its bio diversity, winemaking techniques and concern for the environment.

southafricacape2.jpg Indeed, South Africa can be said to be a leader in sustainable wine production. Starting with the Integrated Production of Wine programme developed more than ten years ago, it has successfully developed a culture of environmental responsibility preparing the industry for the impact of climate change. South Africa is one of the few countries fortunate enough to have land available to establish new wine growing areas and work with new clones and alternative root stocks suited to climate change.

Pictured above, Sommelier India editor, Reva Singh with importers Naresh Uttamchandani of Sovereign Impex and Vishal Kadakia of Wine Park, at the entrance to the Cape Wine 2008 Welcome Dinner which showcased the contrei or regional wines of South Africa with the Cape’s finest cuisine.

With the growth of democracy and the country’s re-entry into international trade, South Africa has established a code of good practice governing labour standards, demonstrating that it’s possible to break a long-standing legacy of social injustice and encourage reform.
A great deal of emphasis has been laid on accumulating social capital and developing the common values that bind society together. The country is getting richer and coming closer to crossing the line to strong social capital. While we were there they had a change in administration. The country’s President was removed by a court order and the transition was smooth, which shows how much the country has evolved.

The South African wine industry is evolving, too. The land under wine grapes has increased and so has the conservation footprint bringing tremendous benefits with it.
Through the efforts of landowners and the Wine Industry Ethical Trading Association (WIETA), the industry has succeeded in enhancing the quality of the lives of the 250,000 people who are dependant, directly or indirectly, on the wine industry.

The conferences I attended, “South Africa 2010 and Beyond” and “Red, White and Going Green” were informative and enlightening. I was impressed by what I heard and by South Africa’s vision for the future in general as much as for their wine industry. They have a broad view of things and are aware of their country’s challenges, but positive about what the future holds, and I think they’ll get there.
This year, for the first time, the volume of wine exported was greater than that sold in the domestic market. As South Africa builds new markets and reaches new audiences, including India, its reputation as a wine-producing country capable of delivering excellent quality across all price points is growing apace.

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