News / Africa

South Africa Cultivates Wine Market

A couple at the WineX Wine Festival in Sandton samples the red wine from Leopard's Leap, a winery on the Western Cape of South Africa, October 2012. (VOA/Peter Cox)
A couple at the WineX Wine Festival in Sandton samples the red wine from Leopard's Leap, a winery on the Western Cape of South Africa, October 2012. (VOA/Peter Cox)
South Africa is the world's seventh-largest wine-producing country.  As the wine industry has grown, there has been a growing focus on expanding the country's wine-drinking customer base.
 
Youth appeal

A high-end winery on the Western Cape of South Africa, Stellenzicht, has launched a new wine called Red ESCape.  The bottle label shows a cartoon-like USB cable that runs between computers, modems, grapes, satellite dishes and wine barrels.
 
Assistant winemaker Natalee Botha says the idea is to appeal to a broader and younger audience.
 
"We decided to make it more accessible for the public.  Do something funky with the label," she said.

The wine was marketed at the WineX festival in Sandton, a wealthy suburb of Johannesburg.
 
"It is funny," said Botha. "I had a guy from Sandton last night that told me, 'This is Sandton, honey, something like this is not going to work here.'  And I thought to myself, he has to remember that this whole country is not Sandton."

Black middle class

As South Africa's wine industry matures, Botha says wineries are looking to expand their customer base, trotting out new labels that will appeal to a broader cross-section of the country.

"The whole idea is that I want everyone to drink wine.  I want everyone to perceive wine as something cool.  I do not want people to find wine intimidating," she said.

The general consensus among winemakers is that South Africa's growing black middle class is a market that has been ignored.  But that has been changing.

South Africa's population is 79 percent black, but among wine consumers, that number has been much lower.  According to the All Media and Products Survey in 2006, 53 percent of the country's wine drinkers were black.  In 2010, that had grown to 63 percent.

Afika Fikeni, of Midrand, came out to sample white wines.

"It makes it easy for us to advance and bring more wine into our homes with the type of food we want to have.  Because we are not wine kind of people as black people, really.  It is a great event," said Fikeni.

He said the industry could do a better job of reaching out to black, middle-class consumers.

That's what winemaker Eugene Vanzyl of Leopard's Leap winery is trying to do.

"Obviously there is parts of the population that were not exposed to wine that much," he said. "We do a lot of tastings in areas that were not previously exposed to wine.  We do wine shows in Soweto and things like that."

Vanzyl says it is a growing process.

"I am pleasantly surprised to see the interest of the black consumer," he said. "It is really picking up quite nicely now.  It is a different market, because traditionally they are beer drinkers.  It is a bit of a challenge for us to slowly convince them, but it is becoming an 'in thing.'  That is the way it evolves, eh?"

In 10 years his winery has gone from selling 7,000 cases a year to 1.3 million cases.

Wineries are also finding ways to make their labels stand out on the shelf - hoping to attract novice wine drinkers.

Winemaker Duncan Savage was filling glasses with Splattered Toad Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine is named after a toad near their winery endangered by vehicles on nearby roads.  His bottles are adorned with a cartoon of a flattened toad.  It attracts the eye.  The taste attracts the palate.

"We started at 20,000 bottles in 2009 and in 2012, 300,000," he said. "People have latched onto it.  They absolutely love the concept.  It is quirky, it's fun and it appeals to a market that before we really did not have access to."

Wine aficionados

From 2005 to 2010, wine drinkers in South Africa grew from 1.7 million to three million.

"I walked in here and went to the wines I knew," said wine lover Kavita Chouhan.  "I got stuff that I know.  I do not really want to come try something new.  I know what is good.  If you think about what you drank in varsity, and what you drink now, it is definitely a change."

Chouhan said it has become popular to be serious about wine.

"Being a wine connoisseur has almost become fashionable," she said. "I do not know how many people actually enjoy doing it.  I am like, 'People should enjoy themselves.'  If they are not into wine, they should not be embarrassed to say that."

Winemakers are acknowledging the market for new consumers has great potential.

And Natalee Botha says there is great potential for the new Red ESCape wine her company is marketing.

"We have been thinking a lot about the concept.  And it is actually crazy that we do not think someone has tried it yet," she said. "It is a sleeping giant.  We do not have little plans with this wine."

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs