MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Getting a good price for fine wines a bane for growers
‘Part of the problem is the history of Cape wine has been a story of perennial over-supply’
It’s not all that difficult to find great value wines in SA: hi-tech skilled wine making marries easily enough with greatly undervalued good quality fruit. The growers who complain that they can’t make ends meet are not trying to sell a sob story to their customers: VinPro, the grape growers’ organisation, has published detailed research which shows that at least 60% of them are underrecovering on their running and replacement costs. Part of their problem is that the history of Cape wine has been a story of perennial over-supply. From the days of the Dutch East India Company it was more fashionable to be a wine farmer than to engage in more mundane agriculture. This is why Jan Smuts imposed the KWV on the industry, setting back competitive quality wine making by three-quarters of a century, but saving the indigent grape growers from the economic consequences of their folly. The exit of the KWV as the buyer of last resort nearly 20 years ago (a potentially catastrophic event for its ...