Sustainability is the Buzzword at 2012 Cape Wine

This year’s event revealed exciting new ventures on the horizon for the South African wine industry.


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Cape Wine, a showcase for South African wine organized by Wines of South Africa (WoSA), was held in Cape Town on September 25–27, 2012. Four years had passed since the previous Cape Wine; South Africa’s hosting of the soccer world cup in 2010 prevented the convention that year. This year’s exciting new addition to the event was Vindaba, a new wine tourism venture.

WoSA’s CEO, Su Birch, designed this year’s Cape Wine to be as green as possible, reflecting South Africa’s leading role in sustainable production. In an effort to “reduce, re-use and recycle wherever we can,” Cape Wine used stands built only of X-board, a 100%-recyclable material made of corrugated fiber. Delegates had the opportunity to participate in various carbon-offset options, including staying in accommodations within walking distance of the show and planting trees upon their departure. 

This year’s total of 1500 registered visitors represented a 15% increase from the previous event. Including members of the trade, the total number of visitors to the convention center exceeded 3,000. Exhibitors, roughly the same as at previous events, totalled 305.

Visitors’ general feedback focused not only on the overall improved quality of South African wine, but also on the recent variety of interesting, individual wines now being made. The consensus was that Pinot Noir is the variety to watch.

In his address at the opening seminar, Charles Banks, former co-owner of Napa Valley’s Screaming Eagle and present owner of the Cape wineries Mulderbosch and Fable, outlined why he chose to invest in the South African wine industry.

“No country has a better quality to price ratio than South Africa,” he said. “I’m a venture capitalist, which is all about finding young talented people and helping them to realize their dreams. There’s a real energy here; there are some real characters, too.”

Among the most popular stands was that of the Swartland Independents, a group of winemakers dedicated to producing minimum-intervention wines that are expressive of their region’s terroir, all of which must adhere to the natural wine standards of the organization.

Highlights from the several seminars included “A Passion for Old Vines” and “Tomorrow’s Stars.” During the former, viticulture professor Alain Deloire of Stellenbosch University described an old vine as “full of memory” and urged South Africans to craft new material from these oldies, who are “at home” in the South African soil and climate. Seminar participants tasted nine wines, whose vines ranged in age from 30-something years to over 100.

The “Tomorrow’s Stars” seminar featured Rebecca Tanner, winemaker at Fable, Gottfried Mocke of Cape Chamonix Wine Farm, Callie Louw of Boekenhoutskloof-owned Porseleinberg and Luke O’Cuinneagain, winemaker at May-Eliane de Lencquesaing’s Glenelly Estate.

The next Cape Wine is planned for 2014.

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