Turning water into wine: A wine farm in the water-scarce Karoo is working towards conservation

Tuesday, 6 April, 2021
Wines of South Africa, Tshepang Molisana
Water is fundamental for the production of wine, but it is critical for the preservation of life.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Cape Winelands are home to two global biodiversity hotspots: The Succulent Karoo and the Cape Floral Kingdom.

It seems counterintuitive to consider vines – plants – as counterproductive to conservation. What is the relationship between winemaking, water, conservation and The Karoo?

Water and Wine

In the July 2014 issue of Wines and Vines, Californian winemaker, Alison Crowe wrote about the necessity of water in wine cellars. Although it may vary, she wrote that it can take four or more liters of water to produce one liter of wine.

Alison wrote: “for wineries, where cleaning and sanitation are mission-critical and non-negotiable, it’s tough to rationalise using less. We don’t want to compromise cleanliness (and therefore quality), so coming up with ways to use less water in the winery can seem like a daunting task.”

There are various suggestions to reduce water use in wineries, including: pushing grape skins using brooms instead of hoses; the use of clean-in-place tanks; and picking balanced grapes in order to reduce the additional hydration of raisins.

Alison Crowe contends that for each liter of wine that must be moved, the hoses, pump and receiving tank must be cleaned or sanitized.

Alongside the irrigation of vineyards, there are many vital uses for water in winemaking.

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There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. The #wineforgood website, launched by wine.co.za in June 2016, hosts all the positive stories from the winelands, of which there are plenty. wine.co.za has made April a focus for #wineforgood stories. Share them far and wide and spread the good news about South African wine.

Vineyards and Church, courtesy of Boplaas
Vineyards and Church, courtesy of Boplaas

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