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New wine estate association launched

CVC logoYesterday saw the launch of the Cape Vintner Classification, an independent association intent on building South Africa’s reputation as a producer of world-class wines.

Not unlike Germany’s VDP (Verband Deutscher Qualitäts- und Prädikatsweingüter or Pradikat Wine Estates), the driving force behind CVC is Johann Rupert, businessman and owner of Anthonij Rupert Wines. “About eight years ago, knowing nothing about the industry, I asked a few key figures how to make and sell better wine. I had no idea how much farmers like coffee,” says Rupert.

Those wishing to apply for membership need to be owners of a registered wine estate comprising a minimum of 20 ha of vineyard and operating a winemaking facility capable of processing 100 tons, the equivalent of 6 000 cases, this being the smallest volume the CVC considers necessary to be relevant in a global context. Membership fees will be R15 000 a year [the figure of R16K quoted at the launch function erroneous].

Accreditation further depends on 1) being environmentally sensitive, 2) exceptional levels of cellar door hospitality, 3) ethical labour practices (this to be determined according to the International Labour Conventions’ Ethical Trading Initiative incorporating South African labour legislation) and 4) wine quality (each winemaker required to present his or her wines to a committee).

Jean Engelbrecht of Rust en Vrede is chairman of the CVC board and there are currently 30 applicants for membership of the CVC, namely Anthonij Rupert Wines, Beyerskloof, Bouchard Finlayson, Delaire Graff, De Wetshof, DeMorgenzon, Diemersdal, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Hartenberg, Graham Beck, Groot Constantia, Kanonkop, La Motte, L’Ormarins, Morgenster, Neil Ellis, Overgaauw, Paul Cluver, Rust en Vrede, Simonsig, Springfield, Thelema, Tokara, Vergelegen, Villiera, Vriesenhof, Warwick, Waterford en Welbedacht.

A key element of the whole exercise is a logo (designed by Anthony Lane and referencing the VOC logo of the Dutch East India Company) which members can add to their wine labels along the same lines of the VDP’s stylised eagle bearing a cluster of grapes which appears on capsules. It strikes this observer that a large part of the success of the CVC depends on recognition of this logo by the punter. As Rupert himself noted, “If you want to sell something, your message needs to be simple and sincere and just when everyone on the sales team becomes totally tired of it, then perhaps 1% of the market has heard it.”

For more information, see Cvc1659.co.za

Comments

  1. Mike, i agree…there’s some ironing out to do with many concepts, but SA needs this to change the perception of our Top end wines and let us be able to sell at higher prices. We can go on and on posting comments etc all year and then some. The reality is that we always ask, what can we do to uplift the views of SA top wines Internationally. Well this should be a great platform. We can take ideas and positives from VDP, from AOC and even the Italians and add our SA flair to it??!!

    Enough said…this is something we need to make work and for once stand together rather than throw stones at the first opportunity. And for so many of commenting negatively…when last did you travel abroad and heard the comments of SA Wine first hand rather than in subjective blogs/posts??

  2. Here is the relevant requirements in terms of labeling rules from Sawis, which effective dictates what the definition of “Estate wine” means. As a post note, there are a few of the CVC farms (under review) who’s names are absent from the current Sawis list of Estate registered entities. How exactly they will remedy the fact that their flagship wines are made from grapes from other farms and regions…. Well thats anybodies guess.

    ” 12 [back to main table] An estate wine of a particular estate must be produced solely from grapes harvested on the estate
    concerned. The wine must be grown, made and bottled on such estate.
    Only officially-registered names of units for the production of estate wine (estate names) may be used. Where another trade name is used on such an estate wine it must be ensured that there can be no doubt as to which name applies to the expression “Estate Wine”. The name of an applicable origin area must also be used on an estate wine, e.g. “Wine of Origin Stellenbosch” with “Kanonkop Estate Wine”.
    The name of an officially registered unit for the production of estate wine (estate name) may also be used on certified wine other than estate wine as well as non-certified wine. The expressions “estate wine” and “estate” may not be used on such a wine or the impression created that the wine was made from grapes harvested on the estate. The estate name must thus figure solely as a trade name or be indicated in the name and address of the responsible seller.”

  3. So now we have WOSA, PIWOSA and CVC?
    What’s next?
    In a year or two as confusing as in Germany? No consumer understands their concepts.
    I can’t understand why WOSA is positive about this idea.

  4. I applaud & support any effort to raise the profile of the top South African wines. The CVC convenors have openly and honestly communicated that this organisation is a ‘work in progress’ and will evolve over time. While there is already a tiny minority who have vocally made their opposition and negativity clear, there are a lot of well grounded and established players with ‘skin in the game’ who have debated this initiative and are throwing their support behind it. The supporters understand the vagaries of the market, have a considerable amount of global experience and are convinced by the merits of CVC and will play a positive role in evolving this endeavour. In order to succeed, CVC needs to be a ‘living’ and agile organisation with a need to improve built into it’s DNA.

    I would urge CVC and it’s future members to listen carefully to comments both negative and positive so that a conceptual evoloution can commence with immediate effect.

    I would urge commentators and role-players alike to continue to voice their comments and concerns, but in an open, polite, transparent and constructive manner in order that our industry can continue this process of forming a united front.

    Historically, the South African wine industry has often been instrumental in creating it’s own problems. In-fighting is not an option at this time as we strive for increased global recognition for our top wines. In my humble opinion, we should all take a step back as we assess the positives that could (and should) come to the fore – over time. Perhaps there is something significant we can leave for future generations?

    • David Cope says:

      Mike, you nailed it.

      Many teething problems – most notably the estate/vineyard size equals quality concept – but overall a good idea.

      I’m sure the organization will only evolve over time to find its feet (and hopefully a new logo).

      Let’s promote SA wine as job number one though.

  5. Interesting concept, but if want something like this to work, you need very tight rules and stick with them. If you want estates to be private, please tell me how Vergelegen and Groot Constantia fit in. When we talk about Estates, where do Neil Ellis, La Motte, Antonij Rupert, Graeme Beck fit in. These are the ones that jump out at me, there may be more.

    If they want rules that can be marketed, they need to keep to them. No exceptions. The words Tulbagh and Coastal come to mind.

  6. I may be slightly out of the loop as I have been road tripping through the small towns of the Karoo, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal highlands.

    Two thoughts after reading this post, however.

    First, is that wine quality is the fourth criterion. Really? Fourth? Quality last is never a good start.

    Second; the referencing of the VOC in the logo is a horrible idea. Is this where our industry is? Do we really need to reference our rather horrid colonial past to sell wine in 2013? What is this, KWV 2.0? Ok, maybe that is a little over the top, but one would think a more modern reference could be found.

    The VOC, seriously?

  7. Christian, as far as you know has the German VDP been successful? Which sticker should a foreign consumer pay the most attention to now? Will the PIWOSA guys join this or should this been seen as a competing accreditation? I guess it’s too early to answer most of these questions, but I can’t help wonder if this will undermine, or perhaps confuse, all the other initiatives we have in place.

  8. Tim, an estate is registered with SAWIS and the Estates Association which is now replaced by the CVC if i am correct.

  9. What exactly is this “registered wine estate” that you happily report on here, Christian? Where is an estate registered? I can’t find any provision for the estate in recent legislation, since the single vineyard a decade ago replaced the estate as the smallest unit in the Wine of Origin scheme. Maybe I’m wrong.

    • Hi Tim, I quote directly from the official media pack. Perhaps I should have used inverted commas…

      • “Registered estate” an entirely valid concept in terms of Wine of Origin legislation, according to Don Tooth, MD of Vergelegen and one of the architects behind CVC when asked for official comment. “Everything we do is within the laws of the country.”

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