SA wine harvest starts

Few events within the wine industry attract as much attention and excitement as that of the annual Wine Harvest commemorative event.

The event takes place every year in February at the Groot Constantia wine estate and not only marks the birth of South African wine while calling for a blessing on the new harvest but most importantly, paying tribute to key individuals who have made exceptional contributions towards the ongoing success of South African wine.

Over the years, many great wine legends have been recognised under the categories of Visionary Leadership (with the 1659 Award for Visionary Leadership), growing inclusivity, wine advancement and Viti-and Viniculture awards.

Tim Hutchinson was chosen for the 1659 Award for Visionary Leadership; Ilse Ruthford was the recipient of the Growing Inclusivity award; Cathy Marston was the recipient of the Wine Advancement award and Dawid Saayman was selected for the Viti- and Viniculture award.

Hutchinson, Ruthford and Marston shared their expert insights on some of the factors impacting the wine industry in South Africa.

Hutchinson said there is a growing focus on producing high-quality wines which is translating into healthy growth in the premium wine market, with higher price points. Winemakers are also experimenting with new winemaking techniques, and Hutchinson advises that new styles of popular varieties and blends are gaining traction.

Ruthford said the wine industry in South Africa is also increasingly focusing on transformation through social responsibility initiatives, promoting diversity and inclusion, supporting local communities, and empowering previously disadvantaged groups within the sector.

Marston, founder and head lecturer at the International Wine Education Centre (IWEC) and the 2024 Wine Advancement honouree, agreed that sustainability is more and more ingrained in all aspects of the wine industry, including wine education.

“Vineyard sustainability is the topic of the current research assignment that all my Diploma students are undertaking and which involves a comprehensive study of regenerative viticulture and its impacts (both positive and negative) locally and globally,” said Marston.

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