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French give green light for global Chenin conference in South Africa

Published:  15 June, 2022

Stellenbosch has been selected as the global meeting point this November for a prestigious, multi-disciplinary congress on Chenin Blanc, a grape variety regarded as key to the future of wine growing. 

One of the world’s most heat-tolerant and versatile cultivars, it is South Africa’s signature white wine grape. The country has more Chenin vines planted than the rest of the world combined, even though Chenin’s origin is in the Loire in France.

This year’s event will be jointly hosted by the Academie du Chenin and Destination Angers, with South Africa’s Chenin Blanc Association and Stellenbosch University. Several other wine bodies are also involved as partners, with support also being extended by South African Tourism.

Entitled Chenin: Revealer of Place, the congress will be presented from 1 to 3 November in hybridised format with in-person and digital tickets available. The three-day event at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) will include a wide range of academic and general interest presentations and vineyard visits. 

The accent will be on sustainability and innovation, with speakers and workshops focusing on three key areas: the full genome sequencing of the Chenin Blanc grape varietal to establish a scientific base for intra-varietal clone diversity; winegrowing and winemaking in the face of climate change; and responding to consumer tastes and lifestyle trends in a variety of cultures.

Amongst the big-name presenters will be Dr Jamie Goode, the widely published and award-winning wine writer, who also holds a PhD in plant biology, and Rosa Kruger, one of South Africa’s foremost viticulturists and a high-profile advocate of the Old Vine Project. They will be discussing new developments in regenerative viticulture.

Another major drawcard will be French neuroscientist Dr Gabriel Lepousez, an international expert on sensory perception and brain plasticity. He holds a research position at the Pasteur Institute and specialises in the brain circuits involved in sensory perception, memory and emotions. He also runs neuro-sensory training for wine professionals to understand how the brain works during wine tasting.

Co-founder and chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, Ken Forrester, said: “It is a major coup for the South African wine industry to host a conference of this calibre. It acknowledges the central role this country has had in elevating the global reputation and awareness of Chenin. It also offers an outstanding forum for members of our wine and hospitality sectors to exchange ideas with other international experts in their fields.”

For programme details and attendance package offerings, go to