Profit in the Vineyard – 14 June 2005

Winetech in collaboration with Wosa presented a seminar – Profit starts in the vineyard – at Spier.

Delegates were treated to experts’ opinions on South African production in the market. Ernst le Roux of Distell discussed the topic Are we producing for the market and even in light of a world oversupply of red wine and a strong rand, he remains optimistic. “If we want to survive, we can. But we won’t be able to do things as we did in the past. We will have to produce for specific goals and price points, and adapt our practices to exploit our competitive advantage.”

Paiter Botha, head of agricultural economy at VinPro gave an overview of the financial sustainability of the industry, as shown in the results of the 2003/2004 industry survey (see Wynboer, April 2005, page 58).

James Herrick, CEO of Wineprophet and regular consultant to the industry, spent some time on South Africa in the international marketplace. He feels the answer is generally site-specific, and that one has to look at it on a per vine basis, rather than per hectare to get an accurate picture. Lindley Schultz of Distell gave delegates a glimpse into the Australian production scene with his presentation about quality in the cellar. He stresses that the industry must work on its organisation and its reduction of labour. “A positive spin-off of working to reduce labour, is reducing the manager infrastructure to handle the labour.” He says industry must also work on training the labour. “The ideal is having fewer, better trained labourers, earning more money.” Wosa’s biodiversity initiative also came under the spotlight as André Morgenthal gave an update on the groundwork being done (see the July issue, page 24).

Wynboer - September 2005 - Wosa/Winetech-seminar Wynboer - September 2005 - Wosa/Winetech-seminar

Prof Eben Archer of Lusan Wines looked at Optimal viticultural practices for specific wine goals. He looked at long-term practices such as site and cultivar selection. “Never just plant and then decide what to do with the grapes.”

He is adamant when it comes to soil preparation. He refers to what he calls the “South African syndrome” where all above-ground contractor work is checked for quality before payment is made, but virtually no-one does a quality check on the physical and chemical results of soil preparation. He suggests that the contractor must stipulate the depth of preparation as well as the furrow width, and that he gets paid per square meter of loose soil after the quality check was done. He also looked at the planting and training of young vines, saying it takes “the same time to plant a vineyard badly than to plant it in the correct manner”.

For more information about the speeches, visit

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