The wine industry body Vinpro’s viticulture and soil consultation service celebrates 40 years of expert advice to South African wine grape producers and wineries this year.
“Vinpro’s consultation service has expanded in the past 40 years to an extensive technical viticulture and soil science service that works towards strengthening the South African wine industry. Today we are a multi-disciplinary team with more than 150 years’ collective experience,” manager of the Vinpro consultation service, Francois Viljoen, said at the 40th anniversary celebration last week.
The KWV extension service, the predecessor of the present day Vinpro consultation service, was established on 1 February 1979 and took on a new name and business model in 2000.
The service originated from a need from wine grape producers to learn more about different cultivars, trellis systems and viticultural practices. KWV’s extension service opened its doors with a team of four regional extension officers and a manager, with broad-based knowledge transfer as their main focus by means of farmer trials, study groups and other extension services.
Today the Vinpro consultation service consists of six regional viticulturists, a soil scientist and GIS soil specialist, a viticultural intern, three secretaries, a manager and an assistant manager. The division is located at Vinpro’s head office in Paarl, with satellite offices in Worcester, Robertson and Vredendal.
Although the current team places a greater emphasis on individual consultation to primary producers and wineries than its predecessor, technology transfer remains an important focus area through articles and presentations in the industry, as well as various events in collaboration with industry bodies. For instance, Vinpro manages technology transfer structures in the respective regions, in partnership with Winetech, through which the latest knowledge and research is shared at information days and study groups.
“The consultation service was also involved in various other projects over time, including cultivar guidelines for cellars and quality improvement projects,” Viljoen says. In addition, the vineyard training courses that the consultation service has been offering to the industry since 2012, in collaboration with the Vinpro Foundation, are making a big difference in skills development and productivity at farm level.
According to Jan Booysen, who was at the helm of the KWV extension service from its establishment until 1999, the South African wine industry was more regulated 40 years ago and producers are facing many challenges today. “Wine grape cultivation is a long-term commitment. The high standard of consultation services and the way in which our producers have adapted, is evident in the quality of our vines and wines today,” Booysen says.
The consultation service is a division of the wine industry body Vinpro, which represents 2 500 South African wine grape producers, cellars and wine-related businesses and provides strategic services and information to them.
Issued by: Vinpro
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