Rico is Rong


Rico Basson is the boss of Vinpro, the mouthpiece for organized wine farmers. He told Farmers’ Weekly last month “the local wine market has stagnated due to a number of reasons, including oversupply and legislation that discourages alcohol consumption. The local market is very competitive and it’s being ruled by a few big players who are able to offer good value for money.”

photo 74 615x410 Rico is Rong

Of course the real reason SA per capita consumption languishes at 6l compared to 50 for France and even 20 for New Zealand is that local consumption does not reflect the demographic. The challenge for Rico is to get Sipho and Pendewe to drink Shiraz and Pinotage. As to the local market being ruled by big players offering good value for money, I’d argue the reverse. The biggest brands are the ones with the biggest marketing budgets. It has nothing at all to do with offering value for money as the regular blind tastings of the Tops at Spar panel of Fundis demonstrate time and again.

In my experience, the best value wines are ones you’ve never heard of from appellations far off the beaten track. With the Platter sighted wine guide now controlled by that axis of sweetness Boekenhoutskloof/Chocolate Block/Wolf Trap/Porcupine Ridge things will only get worse. Legislation to discourage alcohol consumption will likely have the reverse effect as the War on Drugs (which has been lost everywhere) demonstrates.

Vinpro needs to pull its head out of the sand and address the real issues which impede progress. Levelling the playing fields would be a good start.