The South African wine industry has long been undervalued internationally. Jancis Robinson recently noted that European wine drinkers are used to seeing SA wines on the bottom shelf. We have become known for bargain prices and great value wines.
Michael Fridjhon, a prominent local wine writer, reiterated the impact of this locally and the adverse effect this is having. He stated that more than 60% of Cape wine businesses are financially struggling due to the prices they receive. If you compare the prices fetched in Napa versus those in SA, the results are scary. Last year, the average price for Napa grapes was officially $7,000/ton versus roughly $440/ton in SA.
We are at a crossroads. On one side we have innovative projects, like the Old Vine Project, that promote our heritage through premium vintages, whilst on the other we have new producers popping out of nowhere and charging premium prices. This contradiction is causing a perception problem overseas.
Producers, such as Eben Sadie, have spent a considerable amount of time building their brand and ensuring that their quality is second to none. As a result, Eben has been able to gradually raise his prices and now his premium-priced wines sell out immediately on release.
Eroding this hard work, are the new producers with little to no track record who charge the same prices. These wines make their way overseas and are judged by critics like Jancis Robinson who have nothing to base their score on but their price and taste. Trying to run before they can walk, producers can’t charge premium prices before they’ve got a track-record of quality or else South Africa’s reputation could suffer. Read the full story here.