The fires that spread through Simonsberg last week will have a minimal impact on the Western Cape’s 2016 wine harvest.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, today (28 January 2016) addressed the effects of the fires and the drought on the province’s wine industry during a visit to Thokozani Wines at the Diemersfontein Wine Estate. Thokozani is one of land reform’s biggest successes.
Minister Winde said he had received reports from VinPro, which assessed that a fraction of the total wine production will be affected.
“There are 100 000 hectares in the province and a very small portion of that was damaged. It is unfortunate that some of our top wineries were affected. However, I was pleased to hear this week from Kanonkop that there was no structural damage, and as such the fire will have no impact on their bookings and the tourism side of the business. Wine tourism generates R6 billion annually for the national economy and we know our prestigious wine farms are major draw-cards for tourists.”
Minister Winde said fire breaks and the clearing of alien vegetation had made it much easier for fire-fighters to deal with blazes.
“These are the risk mitigation measures we can take. I’d also like to salute the fire-fighters, farm owners and employees, who worked tirelessly. Their efforts played a major role in limiting the damage.”
Denise Strubbs, the majority shareholder at Thokozani, said they expected a decline from about 500 tonnes to 300 tonnes.
“We have hired 40 temporary workers for three months. They were unable to work when the sugar dropped and we could not harvest, but we will try to find them general work here at the farm.”
Stubbs said despite the lower volume, they were hoping for a higher quality wine.
Minister Winde added that agri-processing, which included the wine industry, is one of the key sectors identified by Project Khulisa, the Western Cape’s growth strategy.
“We are seeking to double the value of South African wine exports to strategic destinations by 2025.
“As demand for our product grows, we will need to develop appropriate irrigation infrastructure to ensure we can increase production. This includes supporting efforts to increase the volume of water in the Brandvlei Dam. In this regard, we have established an inter-governmental and industry task team. The expansion of the Brandvlei Dam also seeks to mitigate the impact of future water shortages for the wine industry.”
Minister Winde said the Western Cape Government, in partnership with the Agricultural Research Council, would continue to drive its conservation agriculture approach.
“Conservation agricultural involves minimum soil disturbance, maximum soil cover and crop rotation. Our wheat farmers have already seen increased production and profit, and reduced soil erosion. Going forward we will continue to raise awareness of this approach.”
For media queries, kindly contact:
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Western Cape Government