Natural Causes

“Our white wines offer probably the best value for money and that at most price levels. Our commercial Sauvignon Blancs have improved tremendously over the past 10 years and the recognition that Chenin is receiving on the world stage is worth noting.

“Pinotage is still carrying some of the baggage of the ’90s but huge progress has been made and we are turning out world-class wine. Top-end Pinotage is selling really well on the international markets, so consumers are embracing it,” says Erasmus.


Wine Intelligence’s Wainscott says: “Volumes of SA wine in the UK are down but this may not necessarily be a bad thing. There has been a concerted effort across the SA trade to premiumise its offering and avoid a race to the bottom with cheap bulk wine, so naturally volumes will decline.

“Part of the industry’s effort has gone into defining sub-regions and identifying terroir. With region awareness/reach so low for a behemoth such as Stellenbosch, producers should recognise that most consumers are motivated by variety over country of origin, while the specific region of origin is only considered important or very important by 60% of regular wine drinkers in the UK.

“South Africa also faces challenges from Chile, Argentina and Australia, which are all around about the same point of development. They are all mostly brand and variety-led, most started out by flooding the market with good quality cheap table wine and are now trying to establish a more premium identity with more regionality.

“There are great success stories such as Penfolds, Montes and Cheval des Andes, but I think Chocolate Block (Boekenhoutskloof, Franschhoek) is the strongest showing in the UK and it doesn’t command anywhere near the same prices.

“With these three countries taking a very similar marketing approach (tourism, experiential wine tastings, food matching, premiumisation, regionality), South Africa is operating in a very crowded space,” Wainscott concludes. Oldenburg Vineyards’ Vanderspuy counters: “South Africa is staking its rightful claim as a producer of top-notch wines that can compete on any stage.

“With this momentum and continued drive from so many within the South African industry to produce only the very best, it will remain a hard-fought battle but I am positive that the future is bright.”

Vanderspuy adds an addendum: “An increase in funding from outside of the industry to support a wider ‘brand South Africa’ marketing campaign would help to put SA on a more even footing with other wine-producing countries.

“Opportunities lie in increased awareness for the quality South Africa has to offer and the popularity of tourism to the Cape and the high-class wine tourism offering from many of the SA wine producers,” says Vanderspuy.