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SA wine makers raise glass to Chinese

agriculture and Rural Development MEC Gerrit van Rensburg says the Western Cape could learn a lot from the Chinese, especially in rural development and green technology.

Van Rensburg and other stakeholders, including Wines of South Africa, visited China’s Shandong province, where they were invited to take part in the the Yantai International Wine Expo.

Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Gerrit van Rensburg. File photo: Neil Baynes. Credit: Independent Newspapers

Van Rensburg said besides promoting the province’s wines there were lessons to learn from the Chinese.

“We went to see a biogas plant, which generates electricity from biogas captured from cow and pig manure. The by-product is used to manufacture high-quality organic fertiliser.”

He said this was something the province wanted to explore.

On a visit to the China Agricultural University they learnt how the country was grappling with the challenges of the population size, as well as huge urbanisation pressure as the economy became more sophisticated.

Wine from the province makes up only 3 percent of the Chinese wine market and Van Rensburg said they would like to increase that and encourage more Chinese people to visit the Cape’s wine farms.

“Our wine is gaining a reputation for good quality at a competitive price. Wines of South Africa place a lot of emphasis on the huge variety we can offer, as well as our unique trace- ability system, which is a strong guarantee of quality and food safety.”

Wine exports to China increased by 34 percent between 2009 and 2012.

“Indications are for further growth this year.”

Sixteen local wine companies exhibited over 250 wines at the event, attended by Chinese wine importers and enthusiasts.

Michaela Stander, market manager for Europe and Asia at Wines of South Africa, said the diversity of Western Cape wines was an advantage.

“We have some of the oldest viticultural soils in the world. Our wine lands are encircled by two oceans and we have diversity of soil and climate, giving our winemakers endless wine-making possibilities. We are able to produce a variety of wine styles, all representing incredible value at each price point.”

About 50 percent of local wines are exported and South Africa is the eighth largest producer in the world, with the UK, Germany, Sweden being the biggest markets. China, the US and the Netherlands are becoming increasingly important for future growth.

“Figures for the first five months of 2013 already show a 53 percent increase for total exports, compared to the same period last year.

“What is especially important is the growth has been predominantly in packaged exports, which showed a 40 percent increase over the same period,” Stander said. -Cape Argus

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