SA Wine industry overview – Part 2
The South African Wine Industry is quite heavily regulated, with a number of restrictions on what can and cannot be produced. In the middle parts of the 20th century, South African wine production was suffering terribly. The arrival of a blight caused by aphids, and then the restrictions placed upon the country during the apartheid regime, caused the South African wine industry to dwindle. Wines during this period were not thought of highly, and many commentators noted the harsh tastes, including over-sweetening and excessive acidity. The regulations in South Africa caused many poor quality grapes to be used in wine production, and this affected the quality of the wine.
In 1994, regulations were changed, and wine producers predicted that wine production would increase in quality and professionalism. This helped to improve criticisms which included comments that the South African wine industry was insular, and lacked internationally-recognised values and standards. These serious criticisms have lead to wine experts such as the UKs Wine and Spirit Education Trust offering South African wine industry staff the chance to have qualifications in wine growing, wine making, and wine selling. These qualifications have helped workers in the industry to understand their wines more completely, helping to enhance the standing of South African wine makers amongst their contemporaries overseas.
The more that South African wine growers learn, either from experience or from education, the greater the chances that the South African wine industry will gain a reputation for producing good wines. South African has also continued to produce large quantities of wine grapes (as opposed to table grapes), and it is estimated that the 2012 crop will be around 1, 350,000 tons, with an average wine conversion of 772 litres per ton. This production includes all types of grape juice, including non-alcoholic drinks, brandies, and other types of wine. However, the estimate still suggest that wine will continue to be a growth industry in South Africa.
Average wine sales, both in the domestic market, and in the export market, have also continued to grow, with just under 312 million litres being sold on the domestic market in 2011, and more than 346 million litres being exported. Sales on the domestic market have increased since 2010, and this is a sign that interest in the South African wine industry is not only growing overseas, but is also gathering pace in the country itself.
Within this wine production, commentators have noticed that it is white wine cultivation which is the most significant. White wine is under less pressure from overseas taxation and over-supply, which has affected red wines, so growers and producers are turning to white wine as a reliable alternative. This is also a positive step since introducing different strains of grape vines, and changing the conditions in which the wine is grown help to reduce the likelihood of infections continuing from year to year, and also change the nutrients which are demanded from the soil. These benefits, plus others, are helping to ensure that the South African wine industry continues even at a time of global financial crisis.