The monthly bad news from SAWIS has been posted. Exports of bottled wine over the year to the end of May down from 205m litres to 180m litres – showing a huge positive tendency, as WOSA would say – while bulk climbed from 161m litres to 195m litres, mostly to be distilled into Vodka for the Russian market. Last night Frans Smit, cellar master at Spier, said another huge bulk export will depart shortly. All further entrenching SA as a bulk alcohol supplier, rather than a producer of terroir driven wines.
Speaking of which, would the last grape farmer in the Swartland please switch off the lights? The number of primary producers has fallen 34% from a peak of 407 in 1997 down to 267 today. So much for the Swartland Revolution. Meanwhile Stellenbosch is at an all-time high of 417 producers. Seems like we should be celebrating the Stellenbosch Revolution, even if Oak City could not even get round to organizing an annual wine festival this year. Too many drunk students was the explanation.
But it could be worse for Swartland strugglers. They could be farming in the Klein Karoo where succulents must be taking over from vines as the number of primary producers has collapsed 43% from a peak in 1990, to 256 today. Let’s see what kind of spin WOSA can put on these numbers. Although after their last desert tasting when Su and Andre let muddy dogs into a guest house to trash it, they’re probably not too welcome in the land of Hondepisbosse and Sifkoppe. Even if they spend R1 million of industry money each year on a budget line item called “biodiversity.”