South Africa, which prides itself on its eco-friendly approach to agriculture and the environment, is claiming a world first by linking a sustainable production scheme directly with its Wine of Origin appellation system. The new scheme will be officially announced next year.
Speaking at the Wines of South Africa Mega Tasting in London this month (October), WOSA chief executive Su Birch told Drinks International: “We believe we can make the claim that we are the leaders in production integrity.”
South Africa’s existing Integrated Production of Wines (IPW) scheme was set up in 1998, to provide guidelines covering farms, wineries and packaging/bottling activities. This voluntary scheme is assessed annually through self-evaluation and independent spot-check audits, falling under the jurisdiction of the South African Wine and Spirit Board (WSB) and complying with international criteria including those of the FIVS and OIV bodies.
In order to qualify for the new seal that brings the two aspects together, every link in the production and supply chain must achieve IPW accreditation, including each individual production unit or tank if wines are produced using wines from different sources.
Producers who do not conform, or do not wish to use the new seal will still be able to use the existing Wine of Origin seal that certifies origin, vintage and varietal.
The new SWSA seals will carry the URL swsa.co.za, which is still under development. The ultimate aim is for consumers to be able to go to the website, key in a seal number and trace each individual bottle’s origins all the way back to the vineyard.
“In the current economic conditions, consumers are looking for value and values in their purchases,” added Su Birch. “I don’t think there’s a country better placed to capture both these sentiments.”