Wednesday, April 20, 2011



South Africa looks set to maintain its eco-focused global leadership in wine, after last year’s launch of the world’s first industry-wide sustainability seal to guarantee the production integrity of its bottled wines.

Every seal carries a unique number and is backed by a highly sophisticated tracking system to ensure the contents of the wine bottle to which it is applied can be traced back to source at every stage of the supply chain. The seal is still the only one of its kind worldwide, and has the backing not only of most South African exporters of bottled wines but also the international wine trade.

According to Wines of South Africa (WOSA) CEO Su Birch, by the end of last year the sustainability seal was already being applied to over 80% of bottled wine exports certified for Wine of Origin. At the same time, she said, retailers in major export markets had welcomed the initiative as their shoppers were increasingly looking for assurances about the integrity of what they were consuming.

Now, with the substantial support from producers and the market, the country was preparing to unveil its new sustainability communication campaign targeting consumers. “We want consumers to know that by entering the individual number on every sustainability seal, they can find out what vineyard and cellar practices have been followed in making that wine.”

Featuring a video in English and German, a phone app, a new website and brochures, the new campaign is to debut at ProWein, the international wine trade show in Germany at the end of this month (March). It will outline what sustainability entails and will show how simple and quick it is to track any wine bearing the seal throughout its production process.

“Despite the extensive administrative commitment required by producers to provide proof of their eco-sustainable production at every link in the supply chain from vineyard to bottle, we have had substantial involvement from South African winemakers. Just a few months after its launch, we had 70% of wine certified in accordance with the Wine of Origin scheme meeting the necessary requirements to carry the sustainability seal. By the end of the year, this had climbed to 83%. This makes us confident that this year more than 85% of certified bottled wine will display the seal and that by the end of 2012, virtually all if not all certified wine will be able to do so,” said Birch.

Birch confirmed that all operators in the chain from growers to suppliers, producers, distributors, exporters and retailers were identifiable in the tracking system.

“As a result, South African producers have a strong competitive advantage as more and more shoppers throughout the world demand to know more about what they are consuming. Our new campaign shows how effortless it is for consumers to activate the number that appears on every seal to trace a wine to its source. The fun and entertaining tools we are using, explain some of the eco-sustainable steps, highlighting issues such as management of scarce resources like water, integrated pest managements and so on.”

The consumer campaign will be unveiled in a special Green Zone on the South African pavilion at this year’s ProWein show in Düsseldorf that is expected to draw over 30 000 members of the wine fraternity from all parts of the world from March 27 to 29.

The Green Zone will include vertical gardens, a grass lawn and a comfortable lounge area where delegates can sample wines bearing the seal.

Birch said the new campaign was the latest in a range of initiatives which had seen South Africa internationally acknowledged for pioneering eco-responsibility in wine production. Its IPW set of sustainable wine production principles was regarded as the most progressive of its kind. Its innovative Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) had seen more than the equivalent of the national vineyard set aside for conservation to indigenous habitat.

The country was also using an internationally accredited calculation system created to measure greenhouse gas emissions in wine production. Its light-weight bottle at just 350 grams had been well received by the international market, while South African producers had dominated the inaugural The Drinks Business Green Awards last year and had continued to shine at this year’s awards.

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To see the new sustainability video, visit

DATE MARCH 23, 2011