MEDIA RELEASE: SA Wine Council reports major achievements in first year

Friday, 12 October, 2007
Media Vision Consultants, on behalf of WIC
Progress on a diverse range of issues relating to various sectors of the South African wine industry has characterised the SA Wine Council’s work over the past year.
Speaking at a Board meeting this week in Stellenbosch, Professor Kader Asmal, chairperson of the SA Wine Council said, “the representative structure of the SA Wine Council ensures that all industry stakeholders have the opportunity to participate fully in strategic decision-making in the industry and all groups are now served by the business units of the Wine Council, namely WOSA, WIDA, Winetech and SAWIS.”

“For the first time the wine industry has an instrument committed to ensuring regular dialogue with the leaders in the industry on wide ranging topics including competitiveness, trade, GMOs, empowerment and social responsibilities, the operational spending of the industry levies and the tasks of the four industry business units,” said Professor Asmal.

This inclusive dialogue has led to a number of developments on a wide range - from social matters to issues related to ensuring the South African wine industry improves competitiveness and remains committed to excellence through research and market developments.

“The SA Wine Council’s recent workshop on social responsibility in the wine industry resulted in the industry’s commitment towards making a submission to the Human Rights Commission farm conditions in the wine industry in the near future,” said Asmal.

Speaking at the board-meeting, Professor Asmal also announced that the Minister of Science and Technology has agreed to meet a delegation of the Council to discuss the future funding of research and technology development in the wine industry.
“A meeting to discuss wine trade issues with the South African Chief Negotiator at the European Union has also been finalised. Both these meetings could have far-reaching effects on the wine industry and the results of the discussion will be made available as soon as they have been concluded.”

The Wine Council has agreed to cooperate on a request by the South African Tourism Industry Association (SATIA) on matters related to wine tourism and empowerment.

“The SA Wine Council has from the outset been committed to ensuring the South African wine industry benefits from the huge potential locked in tourism,” said Professor Asmal. “Now that we have the acceptance from SATIA, we hope to really allow the industry to benefit from its tourism potential, as well as creating a level of excellence to rival any wine-producing country in the world.”

To ensure international competitiveness of the wine industry itself, the Council confirmed its support for the establishment of the Centre for Wine Product Development and Marketing at the University of Stellenbosch.

“Together with the University and industry role-players, the SA Wine Council is driving a process whereby a centre committed to wine product development and marketing will be established for the local wine industry,” he said. “The framework for the centre’s functions has been approved, and together with all the interest groups we are seeking a way to fund this institution. With its importance and viability being non-negotiable, we are confident that willing funders will step to the fore.”

The Board also accepted a proposal to introduce a “Wine Industry Fore-sight and Business Intelligence Service” to assist role-players with improved knowledge on market and price trends. SAWIS will implement this new service in co-operation with Winetech and WOSA.

Other achievements in the year to date include the drafting and approval of the Wine Industry Transformation Charter by all stakeholders and the Charter being delivered to the Ministers of Agriculture and Land Affairs and Trade and Industry.

“The industry’s proposal to ban the papsak was recently accepted by government, leading to a positive response from society in general,” he said.

Acting on representations from the industry, the Council has referred the use of the name “Riesling” to the Wine and Spirit Board for clarification. (Currently the term “Riesling” can be used on wines made from Crouchen Blanc as well as Rhine Riesling grapes, a situation causing confusion in local and international markets.)

For the future, the SA Wine Council’s agenda includes:
• The Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) Scheme and control over harmful chemicals in the industry;
• The EU-RSA Free trade agreement and comparative disadvantages experienced by South African wine exports to Europe; and
• A workshop on “Women in the wine industry: issues, support systems and strategies.”
• The arrangements for the re-organisation of the Council’s Office are also on track.

“The SA Wine Council remains committed to inclusive and representative dialogue, but we are also aware the dialogue without the participation of industry leaders and without action and measurable outcome is meaningless,” said Professor Asmal. “However, in the past year the Council succeeded in taking some positive steps in the right direction.”