Thursday 16 October 2014 07:30 – Article on SABC News website – Read the original article here
A booming wine industry is developing at Plettenberg Bay in the Southern Cape.
The town, which is known for its beaches and busy summer season, is now experiencing economic growth throughout the year due to this new agricultural phenomenon.
In the past 15 years, about 20 wine farms and estates have developed in the area, providing permanent and seasonal jobs for hundreds of formerly unemployed community members.
Plettenberg Bay is still a relative newcomer to the wine industry, but it’s already started producing award-winning wines.
The first vines were only planted in 2000, with the very first harvest four years later.
Due to the area’s cooler climate, predominantly white wines, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a range of sparkling wines are being produced.
Red wines, such as Pinot Noir and Shiraz are also now being experimented with.
A local wine master, Anton Smal, says over the last three years numerous international awards have been bestowed on wines from the area.
This includes Newstead wine farm’s Double Gold medal at the recent Michelangelo Awards, for their 2012 Méthode Cap Classique Brut.
“We’ve done extremely well for a new area. It obviously shows this is an area to watch in the future and that we are still going to produce really good wines here. The focus of course is not on producing volume wines but on really being hands-on, low tonnage per hectare, trying to get maximum fruit extraction from the vineyard and into the bottle.”
Owner of Newstead Wine Farm, Doug Lund, says the growing industry has created around 700 permanent and seasonal jobs.
“The local communities here have had very seasonal jobs. It’s been very difficult, there hasn’t been one industry, there’s been a lot of input. This industry I believe has huge job creation possibilities in teaching new skills. For me the skills aspect is probably the most important.”
Peter Thorpe is the owner of Bramon Wine Estate, the first of its kind established in Plettenberg Bay.
He says the local wine route is becoming a major tourism attraction.
“We have got a wine route with tastings at all the various wine farms that produce and it’s becoming quite a big attraction in the area. On top of that we’ve now started, which we had a week ago, the Plett wine and bubbly festival which is going to be an annual event which we had at Beacon Isle overlooking Robberg, so it was really beautiful and we showcased all the wine of the area.”
A spokesperson for Plettenberg Bay Tourism, Patty Butterworth, says they have big plans to grow the local wine industry even further.
“Not only is it beautiful vineyards we also looking at launching the Plett wine lands trail in May 2015, which will involve employment of additional people in the area training them up as guides. The trails will link the different wine farms either through hiking trails, walking trails, horseback riding trails and also sightseeing. So it’s a new dimension for tourism in Plett.”