Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wine country South Africa: Facts and Figures
Picture: Table Mountain (Copy Right Wosa)
Wine Country South African: Facts and Figures
This article is part of a series of articles on South Africa. It was
Written (in German) by Dirk Wuertz, Germany and
Translated by Christian G.E. Schiller, US and Germany
Dirk Wuertz is a higly regarded wine maker and an active wine blogger in Germany. I had his wine in the US in Manhattan’s trendy wine bar The Ten Bells and wrote about it here.
Actually, I wanted to report in our next article on the South African Sauvignon Blanc. But I have decided to make a video on Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. Today, I turn in this article to some facts and figures about the wine-growing country South Africa.
Since the political upheaval of 1994, the wine industry has become a major and fast-growing sector of South Africa’s economy. In terms of volume, exports have increased tenfold; the vineyard area has increased to approximately 100,000 hectares. Impressive here is the fact that that this expansion took place in the framework of a well designed and managed process. Quality not quantity was and is the motto. This is partly due to the fact that the country needs to conserve its scarce water resources and comply with strict requirements of conservationists.
Currently there are 481 private wine makers in South Africa, 59 wine cooperatives, the KWV, two dozen wholesalers that buy up grapes from wine growers and make wine, and just under 4,000 wine growers. These wine makers and growers are located in five regions and 21 areas (districts). The five regions are: the coastal region, Olifants River, Little Karoo, Breede River Valley and Owerberg Boberg (only for dessert wines from Paarl Tulbagh).
Since 1972, there has been a system in place that guarantees the authenticity and origin of South African wines, the so-called "Wines of Origin." The guarantee refers to the grape variety, the vintage year and the origin. All wine bottles carry a control number and an identification. The Wine and Spirit Board, part of the Ministry of Agriculture, is the agency in charge of this process.
White wine still dominates. 55 percent of the vineyards are planted with white varieties, 45 percent with the red. Until a few years ago the share of white grape varieties was nearly 75 percent, but lately there were but a significant shift in favor of red wine varieties. This is due to the significantly increased demand for the "international varieties" Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. But the Pinotage, which is a native grape of South Africa, also shows an upward trend. This crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault is increasingly becoming a kind of national grape for South Africa (even though I do not like it at all .…).
Among the white wines, Chenin Blanc is the front runner, followed by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (which I like very much ....)
The South African success story is based on exports. Currently, around 400 million liters of wine are exported. This is more than half of the total production. The most important export market is England, followed by Germany (!). Compared with 2007, South African wine exports to Germany grew by more than 13 percent in 2008. An end to this trend is not in sight.
The article appeared in German on December 2, 2009
Telefon: 06733 - 94 86 01
Schiller Wine - Previous Articles on Wine Country South Africa: