Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

SA Wine partners with Stellenbosch University on 'pioneering' Chenin Blanc project

Published:  19 March, 2024

South Africa Wine, The South African Grape and Wine Research Institute (SAGWRI), Stellenbosch University, and the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa (CBA) are launching a pioneering initiative to advance the prominence and economic viability of Chenin Blanc from the Cape.

Titled Premiumisation and Value Growth of South African Chenin Blanc Wine, the collaborative effort is set to change the industry’s approach to this cultivar, with the project aiming to take significant strides towards sustainability and innovation within the South African wine sector.

Over R4 million has been invested so far, with the co-funding hailing from South Africa Wine and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The project will focus on striking a delicate balance between grape yield and wine quality, with the overall objective to ensure the ongoing profitability of South African Chenin Blanc wines.

“South Africa Wine remains dedicated to driving progress and excellence within the South African wine landscape through proactive research and innovation,” says Gerard Martin, research, development and innovation executive at South Africa Wine. “That is why we partnered with various stakeholders in this project to grow the value of Chenin Blanc.”

“Chenin Blanc was chosen as the project’s focal point due to its widespread cultivation and growing reputation. Additionally, substantial industry expertise in crafting high-quality wines from Chenin Blanc grapes makes it an ideal candidate for exploration.”

The project will take a holistic approach to examining the sustainability of the whole Chenin Blanc value chain. Comprising five synergistic work streams, including Market and Product Intelligence, Distinctive SA Chenin Blancs, Production for Profit, Juice to Wine and Support Systems, the project hopes to yield comprehensive insights into various aspects of viticulture and winemaking.

A pivotal aspect of the project also involves a model Chenin Blanc vineyard planted with 19 different trellising systems, generating scenarios ranging from very high to very low yields.

The project is being spearheaded by a team of academics under the leadership of professor Melané Vivier, who will be looking to build on previous Chenin Blanc research. Funding will also include student bursaries. The industry will then receive the project’s results through various knowledge transfer channels.

“Adopting a market-centric approach, the project endeavours to tailor grape production and winemaking processes to align with consumer preferences and market demands. Integrated data analyses, economic evaluations and demonstrated results will drive data-driven decision-making and foster industry-wide innovation,” professor Vivier said.

“We are thrilled to embark on this collaborative journey to unlock the full potential of South African Chenin Blanc wines. By partnering with various industry stakeholders, we aim to drive sustainable growth and differentiation within the industry,” she concluded.