23 January 2018

South Africa: Water Crisis Will Have a Significant Impact On Cape Wine Industry

Photo: Tim Snell/Flickr
Vineyard in Stellenbosch near Cape Town (file photo).
analysis

As the drought now afflicting most of the agricultural and many of the urban sites of the Western and Eastern Cape cuts ever deeper into the fabric of communities, all non-essential consumption is being assessed to determine its relative priority status.

Those who still enjoy access to any water and whose need is commercial - rather than for the sustenance of human life - are already finding themselves in some kind of a competitive pitch, either in the court of public opinion or for priority once the water tenders come trundling in.

In this, the wine industry finds itself in a better position than Cape Town's restaurants, hairdressers and hotels - if only because, for the time being at least, it's not facing a certain Day Zero. When the taps go dry in the Mother City, the vines won't die (at least, not overnight) and there will be years worth of maturing stock to sustain wine producers (as opposed to grape growers) till the rains come, as one day they will.

Where the growers will face some mid- to long-term concerns will be when it comes to prioritising grape farming in the overall context of agriculture. The wine industry may...

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