New Cape Vintner Classification association of heavy weight wine estates launched!


Cape Vintner ClassificationA new association of independent wine estates belonging to industry heavy weights was launched at Ellerman House in its new Wine Gallery yesterday. Cape Vintner Classification (CVC) aims to build our country’s reputation as a producer of world class wines, and to ‘promote the Cape’s distinctive site specific wines‘, according to a report in fin24.

The association’s mouthful of a name, which does not seem customer driven, has a logo which includes the date 1659, the first year of wine production in the Cape, and creates an identity and logo look similar to the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Companje, or Dutch East India Company).

The association was formed by Johann Rupert, owner of Anthonij Rupert Wines, L’Ormarins, and Rupert & Rothschild, all in Franschhoek, which wants to introduce an accreditation system which gives wine buyers confidence in the integrity of the wine and its origin. It is said to be an association of individuals rather than of wine estates.

Rupert is critical of bulk wine exports and the damaging effect it has on our country’s wine reputation, and about some members of WIETA, the agricultural ethical trade initiative of South Africa.  The standards set for CVC will be higher than those of WIETA and Fairtrade.

Membership costs R16000 a year, and a minimum membership requirement is the processing of 100 tons of grapes under the direct control of the wine estate.  The first 29 applicants are Antonij Rupert Wyne, Beyerskloof, Bouchard Finlayson, Delaire Graff, Dewetshof, De Morgenzon, Diemersdal, Hamilton Russell, Hartenberg, Graham Beck, Groot Constantia, Kanonkop, La Motte, L’Ormarins, Morgenster, Neil Ellis, Overgaauw, Paul Cluver, Rust en Vrede, Simonsig, Springfield, Thelema, Tokara, Vergelegen, Villiera, Vriesenhof, Warwick, Waterford, and Welbedacht.

Member wines will be classified in three tiers, reports Site Specific Wines (the highest rating), Estate Wines (grapes come from farms under the same ownership), and Wine of Origin (reflecting its origin from South Africa).

An annual quality audit will be conducted.  Technical specifications must be met, tasting rooms must be open on at least six days a week, tasting rooms must be on the wine estate where the wine is made, and its vineyards and winemaking facility must be ethically accredited.

The association membership criteria alone will rule out some of the up and coming wine estates, who buy in grapes from elsewhere to make their wines, or who are smaller.  The Swartland wine estates are conspicuous by their absence.   A consumer campaign will have to inform the public what exactly the new Cape Vintners Classification stands for and what benefits it will have for wine buyers.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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