South Africa: Pressing Matters for SA's Wine Industry

analysis

The wine industry in South Africa is a good example of post-apartheid industrial success, and yet it's coming under more pressure; drought, declining yields, unprofitable estates and most recently huge rises in the cost of bottles have put the industry on the back foot. Yet, industry experts remain hopeful - that's wine people for you.

South African wine. Don't we all just love it? Well, as it happens, not so much. Labour relations leave a lot to be desired. The proportion of wine drinkers in SA compared to beer and spirits drinkers is small. The hectares under vine have declined over the past few years. It's tough out there.

Fully 80% of the industry is either just breaking even or loss-making. The drought over the past few years in the Western Cape has reduced yields and forced farmers to pull out vines, so SA's total hectarage under vine has dropped around 10% from about 102,000 hectares in 2008 to about 93,000 now.

Still, that's a lot of grapes. And it's easy to think of the industry as a kind of side issue in SA's economy, but it employs and supports about 300,000 people. That's not a whole lot less than...

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