South African Wineries Focus on Sustainability at CapeWine

Following the cancellation of the last CapeWine because of the pandemic, it has been four years since the last event. The South African wine industry's leading trade show reveals the dynamism of the sector. In 2022, sustainability was the main theme of the show as well as its seminars and tasting zones. Clemens Gerke reports.

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CapeWine, trade fair in South Africa: Focus on Sustainability
CapeWine, trade fair in South Africa: Focus on Sustainability
  • Upbeat mood at trade fair despite two hard Covid years of alcohol restrictions
  • Dynamic industry being driven forward by a young new producers
  • Focus on sustainability including organic viticulture, pesticide use, cover crops and nature preserves as well as a social component of job creation, gender and ethnicity

 

A look at the statistics can be depressing. The official unemployment rate in South Africa is around 40%, and the unofficial rate is estimated to be even 10% higher. And this is by no means the only problem facing South African society. Power outages, for example, caused by poor investment in generation capacity, are so common that they are planned and announced.

The problems are by no means denied or glossed over by South Africans, but hardly anyone whines in complaint. Instead, they discuss practical solutions for dealing with the situation.
 

Dynamic wine producers in South Africa

So the mood at CapeWine, October 5-7, 2022, was decidedly upbeat. The pleasure of meeting up with overseas customers outweighed any difficulties faced by the industry, which had experienced severe restrictions during the pandemic. These notably included the temporary ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages in both 2020 and 2021. CapeWine, originally planned for 2021, also had to be postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

Almost 2,000 visitors from 60 different countries met 417 exhibitors. The South African wine industry proved to be vibrant. Numerous new producers demonstrated how the industry is being driven forward dynamically by a young generation.

Focus on sustainability

The main theme of the fair was sustainability, which was repeatedly addressed in various ways in a range of seminars as well as in many discussions. South African producers see themselves in a pioneering position here. However, many growers also emphasized that they see a conflict between sustainability and strict organic management, partly because of copper use and drift issues.

Nevertheless, many practices from organic viticulture, such as planting between vine rows, are almost standard in South Africa. Producers also support the preservation of wild nature reserves with large portions of their own land.
 

Emphasis on social component

One aspect of sustainability that gets more attention in South Africa than in other countries is the social component. "I understand that it is more environmentally sustainable to bottle our wine in Europe first, but bottling wine in South Africa creates jobs," said Bruce Jack, owner of Bruce Jack Wines.

Playful label design
Playful label design

Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza said in her welcome address, "The wine industry is one of the most exciting industries in our agricultural sector with clear and growing results of transformation in both gender and ethnicity." Indeed, an estimated number of blacks and women in positions of responsibility or as owners were found among the exhibitors.
 

Outlook

"With CapeWine 2022 coming to a close after a four-year hiatus, I can say that this was a wonderful celebration of our quality wines with a special focus on the sustainability of our wine regions, people and businesses. The outcome of this mammoth project with visitors from all parts of the world exceeded our expectations. The energy and enthusiasm in the hall over the three days was a testament to the hard work put in by all producers to produce wines that represent the vibrancy of our country," says Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA).

 

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