VinPro, the representative body for the South African wine producers, has made available funding of at least R2m a year to accelerate development in the wine industry.
The funds will mainly be applied to training at producer level, ethical trade initiatives (via Wieta and Fairtrade) and research, the latter through the proposed Institute of Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch.
This announcement was made by VinPro executive director, Rico Basson, following the organisation’s latest board meeting. “We hereby envisage an acceleration of momentum and getting a greater impact from the significant initiatives which are already in place,” says Basson.
According to VinPro there is an urgent need for technical training at farm level, for workers, team leaders, managers and producers. “Very little technical training is currently carried out, which has an effect on the skills and productivity of farm workers and team leaders in particular,” Basson added.
VinPro has already started with the production of DVD training material for vineyard workers. This entails creating accredited material comprising ten modules aimed at training vineyard workers in all activities throughout the production season.
This project is being funded jointly by the VinPro Development Fund, AgriSETA, Department of Agriculture, a private donor and private sector sponsorships. The target date for completion of the DVD series is July next year.
VinPro Consultation Service’s own team of viticulturists will, wherever possible, be involved with the training.
VinPro fully supports compliance with ethical trade and will allocate funding whereby the costs related to the audit for ethical trade accreditation can be partly subsidised.
“The costs related to Wieta training and accreditation are substantial and it is important for the industry to see growth in the number of producers and cellars which attain a form of ethical trade accreditation,” says Basson.
Nedbank too is contributing to transformation in the sector. It has invested more than R1.3m over the past six years and has almost trebled its annual contribution for 2012 to enable more aspirant winemakers to join the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme.
Nedbank’s investment to the Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust this year will boost the Guild’s Protégé Programme which currently supports six young qualified winemakers completing their 3-year internships under the mentorship of some of the country’s finest winemakers.
“To create a flourishing wine industry, we need a corporate investment to make things happen. And through the support of the Nedbank Foundation we are able to implement our Protégé Programme by giving these winemakers the ability to one day plough back their knowledge and expertise and thereby help to create a sustainable wine industry,” says Louis Strydom, chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild.
The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, a first for the wine industry, was launched in 2006 with the aim of bringing about transformation by cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers of excellence.
The mentorship programme gives viticulture and oenology graduates at the University of Stellenbosch and Elsenburg Agricultural College the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Guild members. To date eight Protégés have participated in the programme.