South African wines are lauded globally for their outstanding quality and distinctive character. Remarkably, they not only taste good, but make a significant contribution to the economy and provide thousands of jobs.
That's the sentiment of Vinpro, the 2 500-strong wine industry member organisation, and one borne out by facts.
"As a world leader in ethical and environmental sustainability, the social development supported by the wine industry is as impressive as the wines it produces," says the organisation.
The wine industry's contributions as part of South Africa's very identity, are indeed extensive. Outside of tax responsibilities that contribute to the general welfare of the South African economy, direct initiatives like corporate social investment in 2016 alone amounted to R125-million. With every R1-million invested, 4,64 jobs were created.
Further benefits are created through amongst others, training at all levels of the industry and in associated fields; organisations like the wine and agricultural sector ethical trade association WIETA and AWARE!ORG, the association for alcohol responsibility and education, and the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research; and, black economic empowerment projects.
At ground level, the amount of initiatives with which wineries and associated businesses are involved is extensive. From supporting community gardens in Tulbagh to sponsoring rugby teams in Bonnievale and being involved in the SCORE community recycling project in Stanford – there are numerous examples.
The following are among them.
Cape Wine Auction Trust
Established in 2014, the Cape Wine Auction Trust was created to raise money for education in the South African winelands.
Regarded as the most extraordinary international wine event to be hosted in South Africa and the leading event on the local wine calendar, the Cape Wine Auction (CWA) takes place annually over two days at different wine estates in the Western Cape. Prominent wine aficionados from around the globe, hosted by South Africa’s iconic winemakers, are invited to make a serious difference in aid of charity when the bidding opens once-in-a-lifetime offerings including rare wine collections as well as exclusive hand-selected local and international wine and gourmet and travel experiences.
The Cape Wine Auction this year raised over R17 million, with every cent from the proceeds raised allocated to the 27 beneficiaries which fall under the Cape Wine Auction Trust - charities which make a profound impact on the lives and education of children in the Cape Winelands.
The 2019 Cape Wine Auction takes place on March 2, with a barrel auction preceding the event.
The Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) Development Trust
The CWG is a significant social investment contributor.
The trust was established in 1999 to support social development through further education in the South African wine industry. Funded through donations as well as proceeds raised by CWG members at charity events throughout the year, it focuses on amongst others its Protégé programme; bursaries oenology and viticulture students; wine training; and, a cellar worker support programme called Circle of Excellence.
Launched in 2006, the Protégé Programme gives aspirant winemakers the opportunity to work side-by-side with members of the CWG during a three-year internship.
By cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers and viticulturists of excellence, the CWG Protégé Programme plays a role in the transformation of the industry.
In 2014 the guild launched its Viticulture Protégé Programme in conjunction with Vinpro. This 2½-year internship gives promising, newly graduated viticulturists hands-on training.
The CWG charity auction is traditionally held in September and took place for the 34th time this year, raising over R10,5-million.
In addition to the CWG's own initiatives, Nedbank, a longstanding partner, donated R750 000 through its Eyethu Community Trust to the Protégé Programme in 2018. Other organisations which support the programme include Amorim Cork, the Cape Cooperage Group, African Cellar Suppliers, Vinpro and Consol Glass.
Streetsmart South Africa
StreetSmart raises funds for street children’s education, skills training and family reunification programmes, in partnership with restaurants, beneficiary organisations and sponsors. Through donations of R5 at a time, donations raised just over R1-million in 2017.
The wine industry is a contributor through amongst others, wineries and winery restaurants.
Contributions this past year contributed for example in Stellenbosch, to the salaries of amongst others a social worker and learning support facilitator. In Franschhoek, the initiative contributed to The Kusasa Project through R150 000 paid towards the auxiliary social worker and ad hoc social worker salaries.
Wellington Wines is among StreetSmart's partner benefactors and has been sponsoring events since 2016. The winery's national sales and marketing manager, Xania van der Merwe, is also co-ordinator of the Wellington committee of StreetSmart SA.
Speaking at a recent donation hand-over to Ma's vir Wellington (Mothers for Wellington), a non-profit organisation working with vulnerable children, Xania said Streetsmart fits the social investment aims of Wellington Wines. "We are committed to and believe in our responsibility toward our community," she is quoted as saying. "Streetsmart is the perfect partner and a wonderful initiative to combine what we do, especially knowing that this project will directly benefit the Wellington community,”
Streetsmart venues on wine farms include Buitenverwachting Restaurant, Glen Carlou Restaurant, Bread & Wines, Cuvée; Jordan Restaurant; Rust en Vrede; The Bistro @ Webersburg; The Restaurant @ Neethlingshof; Restaurant @ Karusa; Linton Park Estate; Grand Délale; Wellington Wines; and, Waterkloof Restaurant.
The Pebbles Project
Working with many families living on and around wine farms, The Pebbles Project was officially launched in 2005. Its main centre of operations is located at Villiera Wine Farm.
The Pebbles Project is a non-profit organisation passionate about supporting children and their families in the farming communities of South Africa, under the pillars of education, health, nutrition, community and protection.
In 2017, the initiative fed 700 children per month; handed out 47 baby boxes; managed 5 290 clients through the Owethu Clinic; and, served 86 958 meals to children. It also reached funding income of R20 million.
Among its contributors is Delaire Graff winery's FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time) Foundation, which provides a fleet of "mobile learning centres" – vehicles equipped with facilities to provide after-school support for scholars between the ages of 6 to 18 years. Among them are computer labs and libraries.
The Valcare Trust
Valcare is operational in the wine region of Paarl and started in 2003. It describes itself as a "funding platform for activating and enabling social change in the community".
Among its funding partners are wine-related trusts linked Val de Vie estate and Hanneli Rupert.
The organisation strives to connect "caring people and businesses, and sustainable member organisations" allowing "investment" in member projects.
Visitors can get involved with Valcare by donating financially, donating goods and volunteering their time.
Rally to Read
Namaqua Wines is involved in Rally To READ. Launched in 1998, Rally To READ is a partnership between companies intent on contributing to rural education. The project has been designed to support the Department of Education by enhancing the quality of language and literacy education in remote, rural schools. In the past 20 years, close to 2000 remote schools have been actively assisted.
According to Namaqua Wines, by donating funds, it hopes to be able to "give back" to its wider community.
"Our belief is that education creates hope and if we plant a seed of hope in children they will prosper and live their dreams," it says. "We are incredibly proud to be part of this year’s Rally to READ 2018 initiative, and support their vision to make a real difference where needs are greatest."
- Declaration of interest: VisitWinelands.co.za is a wine tourism initiative of Vinpro.