Transformation in the South African Wine Industry
South Africa is a popular tourist destination due to its wildlife, natural beauty and wealth of activities available. However, many travellers may have a recollection of times when South Africa was synonymous with institutionalized racism, and no South Africans travelling abroad could get away without being questioned about that. The 2010 FIFA World Cup was instrumental in transforming South Africa’s international image, illuminating the fact that the country has managed to transform for the large part into a more culturally accepting, welcoming nation, especially when compared with its past.
Wine tourists interested in visiting South Africa may have the question: how has the South African wine industry changed since the end of Apartheid 23 years ago?
During the Apartheid era, international trade became less and less as sanctions prevented a large number of participating nations from buying South African imports.
This caused a decline in the quality of wines available, and in spite of being a wine producing country, one could only get plonk in all but the best restaurants. This changed with the end of sanctions and the release of Nelson Mandela and the advent of local democracy in 1994. South Africa is again one of the top producers of award winning wine, which is also more commonly available locally in the country as the culture re-adapts to not having to drink Apartheid grade wine any more.
Not just the wine itself has changed; the wine industry has had to adapt itself from being known predominantly as white owned, to include wine industry associates of varying races.
Ever since the breakdown of political barriers and redressing of historical wrongs, our country has seen people from disadvantaged communities emerge as winegrowers and winemakers throughout the Cape winelands. Historically, these communities provided the labour on which our wine industry is based. In 1997, the first winery with significant black involvement, called New Beginnings, was founded in Paarl and then followed by Thandi in Elgin.
In 1999 the South African Wine Industry Trust (SAWIT) was established to advance transformation of the industry and promote the exporting of wines.
During the 21st Century a growing influence of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) within the wine industry brought a significant change through various empowerment programs, black ownership and their involvement in vineyards and wineries has been steadily increasing. The year 2001 saw Mont Rochelle Mountain Winery in the Franschhoek Valley become the first completely black-owned winery in South Africa when it was purchased by a businessman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Miko Rwayitare.
Another part of redressing the imbalances from our past is an ongoing education drive, led by various trusts and initiatives. The Wine Industry Development Association (WIDA) which was established in 2006 promotes transformation through economic empowerment, human resource development and training, sound industrial relations and social development. Together with the South African Wine Industry, the current key focus areas are:
In 2006 the Cape Winemakers Guild launched the Protégé Programme which gives aspirant winemakers the rare opportunity of working side by side with members of the Guild over a 3-year internship. To ensure its long term sustainability, the programme plays an active role in the transformation of the industry by cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers and viticulturists of excellence. Prior to South Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup, the SA wine industry worked in conjunction with Wines of SA (WOSA) to create an innovative, top quality wine brand, called “Fundi”. The purpose of this being for all of its proceeds made from wine sales to be used for training over 2 000 previously disadvantaged people as wine stewards by 2010. In 2014 the Guild launched its Viticulture Protégé Programme in conjunction with VinPro. This is a two-and-a-half-year internship that gives promising, newly graduated viticulturists hands-on training regarding the intricacies of cultivation practices, successively ensuring top quality grapes for the production of a variety of wine types and styles.
This is a list of today’s black owned wine brands in South Africa:
- Empowering farm workers to access government support programmes
- Creating and supporting stable community structures
- Reducing vulnerability of the marginalised
- Empowering the youth to ensure that they are well adjusted, healthy and contributing to society in a
- Promoting the interests of women in an industry that is male dominated
Currently there are over 160 000 people from historically disadvantaged groups employed within South Africa’s wine industry. A number of Cape wine farmers have established joint ventures with their farm workers, giving them a part ownership of the farm as well as offering their own expertise in wine farm management and winemaking. There have also been other private business entities that have extended vineyard ownerships to communities living in the winemaking regions.
The aim of this is for all profits from the wine sales, be used to improve the quality of life for the residents living in those communities.
Although South Africa still has a long road ahead with transformation in the wine industry, it is moving in the right direction and striving towards improved equality throughout.
If you’d like to visit any of these fantastic vineyards, you can arrange a custom tour with one of the tour-guide companies like Luhambo Tours.
- Blouvlei Wines
- Bosman Family Vineyards
- Cape Dreams
- Carmen Stevens Wines
- De Bos Handpicked Vineyards
- Enaleni Wines
- Epicurean Wines
- Isivuno Wines
- KABB Wines/ Mountain Breeze
- La Ric Mal
- Land of Hope
- Lathithá Wines
- Libby’s Pride
- M’hudi Wines
- Re’mogo Wines
- Seven Sisters
- Sizanani Wines
- The Bridge Wines
- Thembi & Co Wines
- The Township Winery
- Van Loveren Five’s Reserve
- Women in Wine
Tags: transformation, wine, wine farm, wine industry, wine industry transformation, wine tasting