By: Tebogo Mokwena
The South African wine industry, which is already facing many challenges, has been warned to prepare for a difficult 2023 as a result of climate change. Winemakers in South Africa agree that the weather conditions have made it difficult for them to grow grapes, which resulted in them sourcing grapes from outside their areas, affecting their profits. Also, more information needed to be supplied to small-scale winemakers about South Africa’s climate.
These concerns were recently raised at the Vinpro Information Day in Cape Town. Vinpro’s managing director Rico Basson said that the industry must be prepared. “Dry and warm conditions during the growing season added further pressure which was seen in the disruption of veraison (or the onset of the ripening of grapes) and in sunburn damage,” he said. “Hail damage in some regions and wind in others, coupled with an increase in mildew overall, added to the other pressures producers already faced.”
Basson recommended that the wine industry connect with wine industry specialists to perform better. Gauteng-based winemaker Tebogo Letsatsi, who owns Letsatsi Wines, told Vutivi News that he had already started using grapes supplied by vineyards in the Western Cape. Letsatsi founded his business in 2021 and currently has four employees. He also supplies over 20 establishments with his wine. Letsatsi said that the changing weather affected the vineyard’s growth and he had been forced to search for more arable land due to the changes in the weather.
“Having to source grapes from the Western Cape is an extra cost because I have to go the extra mile and spend more money than when I was producing my own,” he told Vutivi News. Letsatsi said that established winemakers from areas like the Western Cape should host workshops and teach small-scale wine producers how to cope with climate change.
“A lot of small companies struggle because there is a shortage of information and communication from the big guys who can guide us with the knowledge,” he said. “We also need more mentors that can help us understand the wine industry.” Letsatsi also said that the cost of complying was very high, and small winemakers needed to be equipped with business knowledge such as markets and how to tackle logistic issues.