The road to incorporate black wine brand owners into South Africa’s wine industry has been a long and difficult one. Wines in the country were first produced in 1659 but it was only in 1995 when Carmen Stevens became the first black winemaker in the country. And more than a decade later the industry is still mainly white-owned with black involvement limited to providing the labour.
But the launch of the unparalleled trading facility for black-owned wine enterprises at Nietvoorbij in Stellenbosch on Thursday, 11 November 2021 is seen as a signal of inclusive growth in the wine industry, said the national minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza.
Speaking at the launch of the hub, created by the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) and Agricultural Research Council (ARC) as proprietor of Nietvoorbij where the hub is located, Didiza described the hub as a breakthrough for Mzansi’s wine industry.
“This is a milestone in my view, because it is a journey that black brand owners have actually walked both with government, on their own and with the industry. We are here because a lot of partners have come together to ensure that we have this facility that can actually create a home for black brand owners.”
Didiza further described the hub as a pinnacle of inclusive growth: the share of the market that the 13 brand owners will capture, will begin to reflect the inclusivity they want to see in the sector.
She promised that government would support these black brand owners to find market access so that they can grow.
Market access for wine brands
Western Cape minister of agriculture Ivan Meyer also joined in on the festivities. According to Meyer one of the key priorities that he wanted to implement in the sector when he became minister was farmer support.
The launch of the facility, he indicated, is a confirmation of the support that producers enjoy in the area. Meyer further vowed that his department would continue supporting producers and farmworkers in the wine industry.
“We have 98% of all the wine sellers in South Africa, so we have a moral obligation to support this industry. Wine is not only part of the economy; it is part of the culture of South Africa and as we say, there is no culture without agriculture – and wine is part of that culture.”
Meyer said his department would also ensure that the brand owners enjoy market access across the globe.
“The Western Cape is responsible for 53% of all South Africa’s agricultural exports. Wine is one of the single biggest exporting commodities and we want to see your brands on the shelves of international supermarkets.”
Joyene Isaacs, chairperson of the ARC, said, “We always talk about economic development. We always theorise about it, but very seldom do we get our hands dirty doing it. According to Isaacs the launch of the trading hub was an example of getting it done.
She further pointed out that, as a country, we needed to start thinking differently and form creative partnerships for economic development in all spheres in the country.
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