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NEW UMBRELLA BODY

United we stand – SA Wine will now drive country’s multibillion-rand industry

United we stand – SA Wine will now drive country’s multibillion-rand industry
A cellar in Malgas in the Western Cape. (Photo: David Silverman / Getty Images) | A Western Cape farm worker harvests Syrah grapes on 9 March 2022. (Photo: David Silverman / Getty Images) | Sauvignon Blanc in Cape Town on 20 February 2022. (Photo: David Silverman / Getty Images)

Advocacy for the wine industry now falls under a structure called SA Wine. Vinpro will have a scaled-down role and the new organisation will help to create more synergy and assist the industry by guiding strategy.

It’s taken a global pandemic, devastating alcohol bans and rising inflationary pressures to amplify calls that South Africa’s wine industry needs direction and to speak with one voice. It now has one, with the launch of a new umbrella body, SA Wine, an entity representing both producer and trade interests. 

Vinpro, the industry representative for 2,500 South African producers, cellars and wine-related businesses, will continue its central role in the sector by coordinating producers and delivering technical and economic services – now answering to the mother body. 

Previously, the wine industry consisted of independent bodies: SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis collects, processes and disseminates industry information), research and technology transfer agency Winetech; the exporters’ body Wines of South Africa (WoSA); and the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit. Vinpro offered consultation, agricultural economy, wine business, WineLand Media and Communications, HR and other services to the broader industry.

The new SA Wine structure is envisaged to ultimately represent the whole of the SA wine industry.

SA Wine

Paul Siguqa, owner of Klein Goederust wine estate in Franschhoek, at his winery on 14 October 2022. (Photo: Gianluigi Guercia / AFP)

WoSA and Sawis will continue as standalone entities. WoSA is contracted to the government, which prevents merging with SA Wine, but through a new service level agreement, the exporters’ body will have an amended role.

Last week, SA Wine held its first board meeting.

Advocacy for the wine industry now falls under SA Wine. Vinpro will have a scaled-down role, but practically, the new structure will help to create more synergy and assist the industry by guiding strategy, explains Vinpro CEO, Rico Basson. 

“During Covid, and due to what the alcohol bans did to the sector, we realised that we need to find a better way of working and we need to be more agile in the way we operate.

“So we went back to the drawing board and said, we’ve got a clear plan but we don’t think that all these structures are ideal to support that. And that is really where the notion of a single, merged structure came from.”

It’s a first for the SA wine sector, consolidating 10 divisions – from technical services and agronomy to wine tourism and viticulture – the wine producers’ organisation hopes to streamline operations.

“Vinpro will continue coordinating producers and delivering technical and economic services. We own a nursery, for example, and a software company, so that all changes slightly. The advocacy work now moves to SA Wine, so, practically, Vinpro will have a scaled-down role.”

For now, SA Wine will be focusing on four key areas: transformation, including training; the international market; domestic trade (which includes tourism) and sustainability.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: New brooms sweep clean in SA wine industry as investors see only opportunities

Last week, ​​Vinpro, together with the Cape Winelands District Municipality, announced a new wine tourism research pilot programme to generate tourism intelligence to grow their direct-to-consumer business.

Flow Networks will work with the 19 cellars initially involved in the programme, help their marketing strategy drive cross-channel sales, manage their online reputation, and build a loyalty and rewards programme. 

Vinpro data shows that the South African wine industry employs almost 270,000 workers in the value chain, with more than 80,000 jobs on farms and in wineries. 

In 2022, South Africa produced 1,068 billion litres of wine. In 2022, local volumes were up by 15.6%, or 452.2 million litres, worth R21.7-billion.

Exports to 120 countries – comprising 46% of sales – were worth R10-billion. BM/DM

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