SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Wine has unveiled an initiative aimed at increasing the recognition and economic feasibility of South African Chenin Blanc. 

The initiative dubbed, “Premiumisation and Value Growth of South African Chenin Blanc Wine,” was launched in collaboration with the South African Grape and Wine Research Institute (SAGWRI), Stellenbosch University, South Africa Wine, and the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa (CBA). 

The launch of the initiative represents a significant stride towards sustainability and innovation in the country’s wine sector. 

Gerard Martin, research, development, and innovation executive at South Africa Wine, expressed the organization’s commitment to driving progress within the wine industry: “We partnered with various stakeholders in this project to grow the value of Chenin Blanc. South Africa Wine remains dedicated to proactive research and innovation.” 

Chenin Blanc, renowned for its versatility and growing reputation, was selected as the focal point of the initiative due to its widespread cultivation and significant potential for crafting high-quality wines.  

Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association (CBA), emphasized the importance of advancing research in this area: “This project underscores our longstanding belief in Chenin’s adaptability, excellence, and potential to compete internationally.” 

The project encompasses five integrated work streams, including Market and Product Intelligence, Distinctive SA Chenin Blancs, Production for Profit, Juice to Wine, and Support Systems. Through these streams, the initiative aims to gain comprehensive insights into viticulture and winemaking practices. 

A pivotal aspect of the project involves the establishment of a model Chenin Blanc vineyard with various trellising systems, showcasing scenarios ranging from high to low yields. This collaborative effort between Stellenbosch University and Vinpro represents a significant investment in advancing viticultural research. 

Prof Melané Vivier, leading the initiative, highlighted the market-centric approach adopted by the project: “By tailoring grape production and winemaking processes to align with consumer preferences and market demands, we aim to drive sustainable growth and differentiation within the industry.” 

The project also aims to foster knowledge transfer through various channels, ensuring that the industry benefits from the research outcomes. Furthermore, funding will include student bursaries to support the next generation of wine researchers and professionals. 

South Africa ranks eighth in wine production out of the top 10 traditional wine-producing countries globally.  

The country has six wine regions, predominantly situated in the Western Cape province. Paarl is the largest town in the Cape Winelands and has almost 14,300 hectares dedicated to wine grape vineyards.   

According to Statista, the Wine market is poised to grow by 9.67 percent (2024-2028) resulting in a market volume of US$2158.0 million 2028. 

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