South African wine gets sustainability seal

The South African wine industry has launched a new sustainability seal, as a guarantee of environmentally-sensitive production.

Effective from the 2010 vintage, the voluntary scheme allowed wineries with Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) accreditation to use the seal, issued by the Wine and Spirit Board, to show their commitment to protecting the environment and producing wine in harmony with nature. According to Wines of South Africa (WOSA), this is the first time an industry-wide scheme of this nature has been put into effect.

The seal, intended for bottled wine only, is backed by a tracking system that can trace the contents of the bottle back to source, at every stage of the supply chain, to confirm the integrity of their production. Every seal carries a unique number, through which the wine’s provenance can be traced from vine to bottle.

To date, over 95 percent of the South African wine industry has been following sustainable wine-growing and winemaking principles and it is anticipated that around 50% of the country’s producers will make use of the new seal for the 2010 vintage; by 2011 it is projected that this figure will increase to around 80%.

Su Birch, CEO, WOSA, said: “Although other countries are introducing similar initiatives on a limited scale, at this stage South Africa is the only country that has the means to implement and certify the concept across the entire industry.

“The seal is a continuation of South Africa’s pioneering approach to sustainable winemaking and wine-growing. The launch of IPW in 1998 was an important international benchmark for environmentally responsible wine production. This was followed, in 2004, by the establishment of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, which seeks to reserve land within the Cape winelands for protection and rehabilitation to indigenous habitat.”