|South Africa at forefront of environmental winemaking|
|Written by Richard Siddle in Cape Town|
|Tuesday, 25 September 2012 13:06|
South Africa is on track to be the world's leading wine country for its environmental, sustainable and ethical practices, according to Su Birch, chief executive of Wines of South Africa.
She told an international audience at the opening of this week's Cape Wine in Cape Town that the ground breaking efforts it has taken on environmental winemaking would help set it apart from the rest of the world. The challenge is now to communicate that message through its wines and wine companies.
She did not see the current scale of the South African wine industry growing considerably in the next 20 years. She predictated total number of hectares under vine will rise to 150,000 from its current 100,000 hectares.
But she did predict more wine regions being developed along both the east and west coasts and higher up on slopes in the mountains.
In 20 years she forsaw an industry mainly dominated by smaller, medium sized independently owned wine companies with much larger wine tourism industry. An industry renown for its "premium, distinctive, ethically sustainable wines".
She said the South Afrian industry should be proud of the work it has done in protecting and conserving its land, with some 130,000 hectares now set aside on wine farms for conservation.
Birch was confident every South African Winery will be compliant and signed up to its new ethical seal governing wine making, sustainable, Fairtrade and employment practices. She wants to lead the world in "production integrity".
The industry has come a long way from exporting to 20 countries in 1992, to 134 countries today, according to Birch. Most of whom were represented at the Cape Wine event that runs from September 25-27, the first for four years.
The UK now accounts for 22% of its exports closely followed in importance by Russia, the rest of Africa, China, Germany and Canada.
Wine production currently stands at 377 million litres against 217m litres in 2002 and 92m litres in 1992. Exports in the last year grew 7.8% and its domestic market by 4%. The South African wine industry now consists of 3,600 farmers employing 275,000 people.