The change in South African wine

There’s been a lot of talk about how and why South African wine has changed in the past 10 or 20 years. Some suggest that, in response to the demands of the international market, we’ve lost our sense of place. Along the way, they say, we’ve also abandoned several varieties that were key to the styles produced before exports dominated the way producers planned their offerings.

In the world of wine, very little happens quickly. It takes five to eight years to establish vineyards properly. On average, it takes two years for the grape crop to go through the winery and reach the consumer. Add to this a reasonable ageing period, and the soonest you can really expect to record palpable change is a decade down the line. For the industry as a whole, it takes a great deal longer: you don’t decide to establish new vineyards overnight. You also wait for the nurseries to have enough planting material, for hard evidence that this won’t just be another short-lived fashion. You also need to understand what is required in terms of vinification, and to apply this to your new-generation fruit.