Mar 09 2009
Johann Krige, co-owner of Kanonkop, the successful red wine farm outside Stellenbosch, was elected chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the organisation tasked to grow SA’s wine exports, recently.
His message to the wine industry (published on the WOSA website) is worth a read for all the milestones reached and records broken in the past 15 years. But, the message is especially important for its reference to the “big cancer” (my description) dragging on this great industry, namely the players’ (wine farmers’) cronic inability to stand together, to pull in the same direction and make industry-wide decisions.
Instead, it’s a case of 100 wine farmers, 101 opinions. South Africa’s farming community has suffered from “overdone individualism” ever since Jan van Riebeeck came to the Cape and farmers started settling ever further away from the government seat of the day. Today the wine farmers of the Cape are just as hot on their freedom and independence as those farmers had been in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The best one-sentence description of the modern-day Cape wine farmer still is: “Why be difficult, if one can be plain impossible?”
All good and fine – a free spirit has always been a beautiful thing. But, not in the day and age we live in. Today this characteristic is misplaced – a burden to the industry.
I think it was brave of Johann to allude to this “cancer” in his chairman’s address. And hold thumbs he manages to bring the industry together and get it to work as one. At least on one issue, namely exports.
Read earlier articles of mine on this topic here.