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Premiumisation and Value Growth of South African Chenin blanc wine

by | May 3, 2024 | Viticulture

Project title:
Premiumisation and Value Growth of South African Chenin blanc wine

Project number:

Project leader:
Prof Melané Vivier

South African Grape and Wine Research Institute (SAGWRI), Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Stellenbosch University

Start date:

National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chair

Project description:
The economic sustainability of wine producers in South Africa (SA) is under severe strain. Value growth in bulk and packaged wine is much needed to achieve the goal of becoming a sustainable wine industry. This project aims to explore ways to ensure the profitability of SA Chenin blanc wines in a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on balancing yield and quality.

Chenin blanc was chosen for various reasons:

  • It is a widely planted cultivar with a growing reputation.
  • The vineyards are naturally high-yielding, and there is significant industry expertise in making excellent quality wines from these vineyards.
  • There is a strong focus on developing the cultivar brand, and significant work has been done regarding typical Chenin blanc aromas, styles and consumer preferences.

The project consists of five work streams:

  • Market and product intelligence
  • Distinctive SA Chenin blancs
  • Production for profit
  • Juice to wine
  • Support systems

The work streams are interdependent and additive.

A model Chenin blanc vineyard planted to 19 different trellising systems will generate scenarios of very high to very low yields. A comprehensive characterisation will provide a holistic understanding of the vine architecture, yield components, vine and berry physiology, nutrition and ripening dynamics and berry compositions.

The harvested berries’ juice will then be subjected to fermentation trials and experiments to identify optimal microbial consortia and their nutrition, as well as experimental winemaking techniques to identify the optimal techniques for high, medium, and low yield scenarios towards premiumisation of all categories.

This project’s grape production and winemaking aspects will be directed (reverse-engineered) by a market, consumer and product-centred approach.

Integrated data analyses, data warehousing, economic analyses, and results showcasing will be integral to all workflows. The project will also link to the current South Africa Wine Game Changer Data Intelligence project by being a case study of collecting, storing and valorising data from a research project where data and knowledge can be put in a platform for ease of visualisation and transfer.

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