Conservation Acreage Surpasses Vineyards in South African Winelands

May 25, 2011
PR NewsWire

For every one acre planted to vineyards in South Africa, the growers now have 1,27 acres on the farms and estates in conservation status. These are the latest figures released by the World Wildlife Fund's Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a pioneering partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector. The 314,500 acres under conservation are being restored to the indigenous vegetation, and as this process happens, growers are finding that natural water resources return, along with a myriad of wildlife.

South Africa has approximately 250,000 acres under vine. Recent reports that South Africa has had a net decline in vineyards and is facing a wine shortage within 5 years are overstated, said Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa, the generic industry organization. The net reduction in vineyards since 2007 has been less than 1%, and the vineyards that have been removed were largely virused red vineyards that had been too hastily planted during the period when total exports from South Africa absolutely boomed.

Birch stated that South Africa is currently reducing its share of high volume very low-priced sectors of the European market and will focus more on producing higher volumes of the premium quality wines needed to compete more actively in the US and other developing markets. South African wineries are encouraged by the success in the US of brands like Excelsior and Indaba, which are now approaching the 100,000 case per annum mark, having grown depletions by 27% and 24% respectively for the past two years. This optimism in the bright future of the South African category in the US is evidenced by the investment of Charles Banks, former partner in the cult California producer, Screaming Eagle, into Mulderbosch and the ambitious plans for this estate. Mulderbosch is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative and one of the many farms with land in conservation in South Africa.