South Africa's take on Sustainability

Tuesday, 9 October, 2012
Vinbanken: Erica Landin
When I first looked at the sustainability program of South Africa, the Integrated Production of Wine Scheme, I thought it was too easy, too lenient. Basically what producers have to do to be accredited is follow the law. Shouldn’t they do that regardless? Well, turns out it wasn’t that simple.
South Africa is both an old and a new wine producing nation. Groot Constantia, founded in 1685, is still making wine. But the modern wine industry started developing after the fall of apartheid in 1994. Until that point, all focus had been on quantity production of grapes for simple wines and distillates. This means conventional farming to the core – maximum herbicides, pesticides and a quick turnover of vines. The health of the workers or the health of the soils was not a priority.

IPW, similar to New Zealand’s sustainability program, is an inclusive program, aimed at getting as many producers to follow the minimal requirements as possible. It is not a seal to indicate those who go above and beyond. Members are encouraged to improve their score from year to year, but as long as they pass, they will not be kicked out if these improvements do not occur. Follow-ups are a combination of third party inspections and self-reports. The changes might not be enormous for the individual producer, but for the industry as a whole it has made a huge improvement in environmental impact according to one of South Africa’s most notable viticulturalists, Rosa Kruger.

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