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South African Wine Industry Uncorks Opportunities

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Wine-making is one of South Africa’s oldest industries and plays a key part in the country’s economy. And now both wine making and production are being transformed and creating new economic opportunities. Once seen only as the preserve of the country’s white minority population, wine is slowly becoming a black thing too.

With exports growing from less than 50 million litres in 1994 to more than 400 million litres in 2008 – year-on-year growth of 17 percent – it is an industry that would be remiss if it didn’t share the profits of this success with the 80 percent of the country’s population who are black.

Since the end of the racist Apartheid regime (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa_under_apartheid) in the mid-1990s, various government and industry initiatives have begun to reverse the iniquities of the country’s wine-making industry – and in turn, introduce more black South Africans to the pleasures of drinking this fine local product.

One product of this shift in sentiment is Zimbabwean Tariro Masayiti. A vintner for the prestigious South African winery Nederburg, he made history by being commissioned to create two of the three selected official wines for the World Cup of football held in South Africa this year. His Sauvignon Blanc and Dry Rose were drunk while fans watched the competition.

He says his introduction to the world of wine-making came about by chance.

“It was by accident really,” he said. “My brother used to work at a farm close to the Mukuyu wineries in Marondera (Zimbabwe). During my days at the university he recommended I do general work at the winery as I needed pocket money and something to help my family with.

“It was here that I got interested in winemaking. I used to see visitors from all over the world and some of them encouraged me to take up winemaking as a career. I applied and was accepted for a place at the University of Stellenbosch where I studied Viticulture and Oenology (winery),’ Masayiti told SW Radio Africa news.

“I was headhunted by Nederburg before I even finished my studies.”

Masayiti’s job involves testing the grapes that go into the winery’s product.

“I smell them and at the same time look for specific characters and flavours,” he said. “You improve on the job with training – you just need to taste a lot of wine. You need to love wine and having a science background is useful, so you understand the technical processes. But one thing that serves me well is I am dedicated and passionate about winemaking.”

Another symbol of these changes is Vernon Henn, general manager of Thandi wines (http://www.thandi.com). He worked his way up to this prestigious role in the white-dominated South African wine industry from being an office cleaner. Thandi is the first wine brand in the world entirely owned and run by a black collective.

Thandi (which means “nurturing love” in the Xhosa language) was started in 1995 and became the world’s first Fair Trade-certified wine in 2003. It sells cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, semillon, chardonnay and chenin.

“The whole of the industry has been changing slowly,” Henn told the Guardian newspaper. “We can now up the pace of transformation. There’s still a misconception that anything from black-owned manufacturing has to be inferior. We have always focused on quality and tried to redress misconceptions about black-owned labels.”

Other black-owned labels include M’hudi (http://www.mhudi.com); Ses’fikile (http://www.winedirectory.co.za/index.php/138/sesfikile), led by three former township schoolteachers; and Seven Sisters (http://www.sevensisters.co.za/wmenu.php) – cultivated by seven sisters.

“We are a tiny minority but we are here to stay,” said Vivian Kleynhans of the African Vintners Alliance, comprising eight companies led by black women. “So they will just have to accept us.”

Another success is the Indaba brand (http://twitter.com/IndabaWines) first launched in the US in 1996, just after South Africa became a democratic republic. “Indaba” is the Zulu word for “a meeting of the minds,” or a traditional gathering of tribal leaders for sharing ideas.

The brand was created as a celebration of the democratization process in South Africa, and from its inception the wines have conveyed the spirit of South Africa to the world’s wine drinkers.

The Indaba range of wines consists of the Indaba Sauvignon Blanc, Indaba Chenin Blanc, Indaba Chardonnay, Indaba Merlot and Indaba Shiraz.

There is also the 6th annual Soweto Wine Festival (http://www.sowetowinefestival.co.za/About.htm) held in the Soweto township of Johannesburg. Soweto was home to the resistance against the Apartheid regime, and still has a very poor slum area in its midst. But it is also home to the new and rising black middle class. Many parts of Soweto could now pass for affluent suburbs in any wealthy country. Hatched as an idea in 2004, the wine festival is about “introducing South Africa’s quality wines to the remaining 80 percent of our population,” says Mnikelo Mangciphu, co-founder of the Soweto Wine Festival“Wine is not for white South Africans only to enjoy. It should be a way of life for all South Africans.”

Mangciphu is also the owner and manager of the only wine shop in Soweto – Morara Wine & Spirit Emporium, which he launched after the first Soweto Wine Festival in 2005.

The idea behind the festival is to shift attitudes in South Africa about wine drinking. Soweto has been the home to many trends in the country, from politics to fashion to pop music. And so it seemed the right place to start shifting attitudes towards wine. The number of participants has grown from 3,000 people to 5,520. Five years after it began, the festival showcases wines from 103 wineries.

Mangciphu had spotted a shift in drinking habits away from just beer and so he opened his wine boutique in Soweto to cater to these new tastes. The shop is an elegant place with wooden shelves displaying the bottles of wine.

South Africa’s wine industry now employs around 257,000 people directly and indirectly, including farm labourers and those involved in packaging, retailing and wine tourism.

Wine tourism alone employs over 59 000 people. The Western Cape region, home to much of the wine industry, has seen its economy grow on the back of wine tourism.

By volume, South Africa ranks ninth in the world for wine production.

There is a scholarship fund also available to encourage young people to enter the South African wine industry as a career. Mzokhona Mvemve was one of the first awarded the Indaba Scholarship and became South Africa’s first black wine maker in 2001, working for Cape Classics.

Published: October 2010

Resources

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

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This work is licensed under a
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ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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China’s Booming Wine Market Can Boost South

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

A great South-South opportunity has emerged with the recent boom in wine drinking in China and the pursuit of quality tastes. Matching high-quality wine producers from the global South – including South Africa, Chile, Morocco, and Lebanon – with China’s thirsty wine drinkers could deliver a major income boost.

In the past year China has become the world’s fastest-growing wine market with newly wealthy seeking sophisticated tastes and young working women seeking the health benefits of wine (http://www.healthtree.com/articles/red-wine/). Yearly wine consumption in China is expected to increase by 20 percent to 126.4 million cases by 2014, a fact that is grabbing the attention of old and new-world wine producers.

Women are driving China’s growing market for wine, which is perceived as a symbol of affluence, a benefit to health – in moderation – and good for the skin. A new report from the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) group says wine consumption in China and Hong Kong jumped 100 per cent between 2005 and 2009, from 46.9 million to 95.9 million cases.

Import taxes have been reduced as China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), and this has prompted foreign wine brands to lunge into the market.

The government is trying to get people to switch away from high-strength alcoholic drinks by increasing the tax on them.

Awareness and experience varies widely amongst the winemakers of the global South. Some countries, such as South Africa, Chile and Argentina, have long-standing international reputations for producing quality wine, and use sophisticated branding and marketing campaigns to connect with their customers. But other countries, including Lebanon, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, have lower profiles and do not pack the same brand punch. But all these countries help show the role viticulture can play in economic development. By tapping into this Chinese wine drinking boom, they could reap rich rewards.

In Lebanon, viticulture – the harvesting of grapes for wine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viticulture) – has prospered despite the country’s wars and instability.

Lebanon has a long and illustrious history of winemaking stretching back 5,000 years. The modern Lebanese wine industry dates itself from 1857, when Jesuit monks at Ksara in the Bekaa Valley began importing vines from Algeria. After World War I, when the French took control of Lebanon, its vineyards expanded to satisfy France’s thirsty imperial troops.

Then Lebanon was hit by the brutal civil war of the 70s and 80s. And things have remained unstable and uncertain since.

But despite this, well established businesses like Ksara (http://www.ksara.com.lb/), Kefraya (http://www.chateaukefraya.com/) and Musar (http://www.chateaumusar.com.lb/english/cave.aspx), and small boutique producers, thrive.

Massaya (http://www.massaya.com/old/wine.htm) is one of Lebanon’s most dynamic and successful wineries, owned by brothers Sami and Ramzi Ghosn. Both are Christians like many of the Lebanese winemakers. They have been able to succeed in an area fraught with tension from past conflicts.

Another winery is using the business to revive a community and restore old skills. In the hills east of Beirut, the BBC found Naji Boutros – who used to be an investment banker in London – and his wife Jill. Boutros started Chateau Belle-Vue in Bhamdoun (http://www.chateaubelle-vue.com/), in the village where he grew up. As well as producing wine, the Chateau finances community projects and a library.

The two kings in the global South of wine exports are South Africa and Chile. Both countries have very strong brand awareness in export markets and both have triumphed after years of boycotts due to the political situations in the respective countries (Chile’s military dictatorship and South Africa’s Apartheid regime).

Wine-making is one of South Africa’s oldest industries and plays a key part in the economy (http://www.wine.co.za/), with exports growing from less than 50 million litres in 1994 to more than 400 million litres in 2008 – year-on-year growth of 17 percent.

Since the end of the racist Apartheid regime (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa_under_apartheid) in the mid-1990s, various government and industry initiatives have begun to reverse the iniquities of the country’s wine-making industry. South Africa has been pioneering switching black Africans on to the pleasures and profits of wine making and drinking.

Like Argentina, Chile (http://www.winesofchile.org/) has a strategic plan for its wine industry by 2020. It hopes to be “the Number One producer of sustainable and diverse premium wines from the New World by the year 2020.”

Chile – recovering from the severe earthquake on February 27, 2010 – uses a sophisticated marketing strategy to promote its wines, including websites, social networking media and events and tastings. Since 2007, it has unified its marketing efforts under one umbrella organization, the Vinos de Chile, and it also offers wine tourism to further develop a close relationship with drinkers, The Wines of Chile Experience (http://www.chilewinetourism.com/), launched in 2010.

Chile’s neighbour Argentina (http://www.winesofargentina.org/) is the world’s fifth largest producer of wine,

The country has seen its domestic consumption of wine shrink as tastes changed, and has also experienced very extreme economic fluctuations. It has had to raise its game in order to earn income from exporting. This has been a spur to the wine industry and it has seen growth since 1996.

Wine growing has a long history in Argentina, going back to its Spanish colonial foundations in the 1500s. Argentineans drank large quantities of wine domestically in the 1970s but this tailed off in the later decades.

That had been balanced by a great export success with wines from the malbec grape. The flavour of this wine and its brand image has proven to be a weighty ambassador for Argentinean wines in general. By keeping a competitive price, Argentinean wine has flourished during the global economic crisis as people have moved to less expensive brands. The country cleverly has a wine marketing strategy based on Australia’s experience. This is an ambitious plan with the goal of capturing 10 percent of the global wine market share by 2020.

Argentina also aggressively pursues new markets by visiting them regularly and doing wine promotions and tastings with potential customers. It also brings people to the country to visit the wineries and experience Argentinean culture and food.

In North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco have a long history cultivating wine and have been winning awards since the 1859 Fall Exposition in Paris. Over the years quality control was an issue as political and economic factors disrupted access to global markets. But in the last few years governments have been working to support the industry and regain its past reputation.

Winemaking in North Africa goes back to the Romans and the Phoenicians. Despite Islam prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, the industry has survived. The industry is currently being re-organized to make the most of a free trade agreement with the European Union.

Tunisia has a long, rich winemaking heritage known the world over. About half of Tunisia’s vineyards are dedicated to producing grapes for wine production rather than for sale as table grapes.

Over the last 20 years, Les Vignerons de Carthage, a cooperative of 10 cellars located in the Cap Bon region of Northern Tunisia, have been working under the leadership of Belgacem D’Khili, a Bordeaux trained oenologist to improve and maintain wine quality.

They have kept the old vines, persevered with hand-harvesting and traditional techniques, but have modernised the cellar equipment, the storage and overall approach to hygiene.

North African wines are being collectively marketed by resellers like Cotes d’Afrique (http://www.cotes-d-afrique.co.uk/tunisianwine/history.aspx).

Morocco, too, has become a respected wine maker and has a robust domestic wine-drinking market. Morocco’s oldest winery, Celliers de Meknes (http://www.lescelliersdemeknes.net/), told the Global Post how it handles the delicacies of wine-making in a majority Muslim country.

“We are tolerated,” said Jean-Pierre Dehut, the export manager for Celliers de Meknes. “But the tolerance requires that we stay within certain boundaries.”

Celliers de Meknes sells some 30 million bottles of wine per year — 25 million in Morocco.

A little-known wine producer, Zimbabwe has been producing wines since the early 1950s and commercially since 1965, according to Zimbabwe Tourism. Production peaked in the 1980s and later suffered from an export ban. Despite the country’s economic and political problems, the wine industry has grown. New techniques, equipment and grape varietals have been introduced and winemakers have been trained in Germany, Australia and South Africa. Regular visits from outside consultants have helped with raising standards.

Apart from economic problems the industry struggled with viruses and climate. But since the 1990s the industry has started to win international wine competitions

One of the successful wineries is Mukuyu Winery (http://www.africanbeersandwine.com/pages/wine.html), which produces an average of 1.5 million litres per year from 100 hectares under vines. Over the past 13 years, Mukuyu wines have won Silver and Bronze medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London, and regional wine tasting competitions in South Africa.

Published: January 2011

Resources

1) China Wines Information Website: A website with the latest news and events on China’s fast-growing wine market. Website: http://www.wines-info.com/en/index.aspx

2) Interwine China 2011: The 6th China (Guangzhou) International Wine and Spirits Exhibition and World Famous Wine Expo, May 25th to 27th, 2011. Website: http://www.interwine.org/interwine/pages/2010/index.interwine

3) Shenzhen International Wine Hub: Shenzhen International Wine Hub is located in downtown Longgang, and is designed to provide an unprecedented one-stop platform for all wine-related business, integrating product exhibition, wine trading, wine information and statistics publishing, wine knowledge training, quality examination and evaluation, wine culture showcasing as well as food and recreation. Website: http://www.szwinehub.com/en/

4) Zimbabwe Tourism: Website: http://www.zimbabwetourism.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=119&Itemid=144

5) Soweto Wine Festival: Website: http://www.sowetowinefestival.co.za/About.htm

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

Categories
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Gobi Desert Wine to Tackle Poverty and Boost Incomes

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

In the arid Gobi Desert spanning the two Asian nations of China and Mongolia is a bold attempt to make wine and reduce poverty. The environment is harsh, with temperatures swinging from sub-zero winter cold to sweltering summer heat. The desert is also home to high winds and notorious dust storms that plague China’s capital Beijing every year.

China’s wine industry is booming as people have embraced the drink’s perceived health-giving qualities and are using it to celebrate new-found wealth as the economy has flourished. Current wine consumption in China is half a litre per person per year, low compared to the French average of 55 litres a year. But this is growing quickly.

Well-known brands include Great Wall, Dynasty and Changyu (http://www.changyu.com.cn/english/index.html), which is considered the world’s 10th largest wine producer.

One innovative winery is using this wine boom to tackle poverty and increase local wealth.

Chateau Hansen (hansenwine.com) in Inner Mongolia has been operating since the 1980s, but recent expansion and modernization have significantly increased its earning power and the number of people it employs. Located in an area with high levels of poverty, it has developed a successful wine business in the desert by tapping the plentiful water supplies from the Yellow River. The area is now considered one of the best for growing wine grapes in China.

Located near Wuhai city (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuhai), 670 kilometres west of Beijing, Chateau Hansen has 250 hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Gernischt grapevines.

The vines are buried under the sand to protect them from the harsh weather in the winter.

“The lowest temperature gets down to is below -20 degrees C (Celsius), but in summer, it can reach 38 or 40 degrees C (102 or 104 F),” Li Aixin, Chateau Hansen’s head of viticulture, told MSNBC. “Here the four seasons are good for the growth of the grapes, but in the winter we need to bury them in the earth” to keep them from freezing. Hansen has been ambitious in its approach. It has a European-style chateau, hotel and even a French wine expert, Bruno Paumard, on site to help with the wine making. The chateau’s cellar now stores 1,000 barrels of wine.

Paumard arrived in China in 2005. He has thrown himself into Chinese culture and tasted and tested the country’s wines. Hansen has produced 400,000 bottles of wine, mostly sold in China, where red wine drinking has become a big part of the culture of celebration.

Hansen sells the majority of its wine to government organizations and regional enterprises. It has seen its profits double to 100 million yuan (US $18 million) in 2011 and hopes sales will double again in 2012.

“Eighty per cent of the market in China is really the local governments who encourage the enterprises in their cities to consume red wine, of a certain brand, at their banquets in the place of Chinese ‘baijiu’ for their incessant and never-ending toasts,” said Paumard, referring to China’s home-grown rice wine. “So it’s actually a market that’s totally unique.”

Hansen’s Cotes du Fleuve Jaune du Desert de Gobi has become one of the biggest award-winning wines in China. It received a bronze medal from the International Wine Challenge of Blaye, near Bordeaux, France.

China now stands as the world’s fifth-largest consumer of wine (International Wine and Spirit Research study) (http://www.iwsr.co.uk/). The market in China is forecast to grow by 54 per cent from 2011 to 2015, adding up to a billion bottles.

A map of China’s vineyards and their terroir or soil conditions shows a diverse wine-making sector (http://www.hansenwine.com/english/vineyardlink.html).

In this busy marketplace, Hansen prides itself on being organic. It also has the goal of turning the arid desert into green vineyards using irrigation from the Yellow River and groundwater. It wants to create employment and raise living standards in the region and is fitting into a national strategy to raise living standards for poor regions.

There is a training programme for the around 400 workers employed by the winery. No pesticides are used and only sheep dung is used as a fertilizer provided by 3,000 sheep on site. Trees also play a role in providing humus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humus) for the vines. There is also accommodation in a nearby village for the employees.

There are 250 hectares of vineyards and the grapes are harvested by hand. Expansion began in 2001 when the chateau and winery were built. It is strategically located just 500 metres from an airport and the chateau has a luxury hotel. Around 20,000 people visit a year, according to Hansen’s website, bringing in further income for the winery. The winery also uses Mongolian culture and cuisine as a selling point to attract tourists.

The chief executive of Hansen is Han Jianping, who made his first fortune in real estate development.

Han believes that “the momentum of growth in the wine industry is huge.”

“With a great foundation of more than 1 billion people as we have in China, and (the industry) growing at 20 or 30 per cent a year, there is a huge potential for more growth,” he said.

Resources

1) China Wine Online: An information service that also produces the China Wine Business magazine and runs the China Wine Study Tour. Website: http://www.winechina.com/en/index.asp

2) The 10th Shanghai International Wine and Spirits Expo 2013: Website: http://www.winefair.com.cn/sugar/en/index.asp

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More on the Gobi Desert here:

Development Profile: UNDP In The Southern Gobi Desert | May-June 1998

Kommunikation total: Der siebte Kontinent

Wild East 17 Years Later | 2000 – 2017

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021