Vinpro not only has a new look, it’s also renewing its focus on sustainable growth.

 Wine industry body Vinpro has over the past 15 years evolved to create an enabling environment for growth from soil to shelf. Now it is looking to the future, with a renewed commitment to the sustainability of everyone that has an effect on or is affected by the wine industry – and new branding to support this vision.

The evolution

Vinpro’s focus has expanded significantly since its inception in 2003. The vision of a sustainable and participative wine-producing community is still relevant, but the community has evolved and gained several new facets.

“Vinpro initially focused primarily on the needs of wine grape producers,” Vinpro managing director Rico Basson says. “But the organisation realised that its members don’t operate in isolation and expanded its reach to include the entire value chain. In the process, private cellars, producer cellars, businesses, organisations and people related to the wine industry joined the Vinpro family.”

The nonprofit company derives its income from investments, consultation fees and products.

Over the past 15 years Vinpro has acquired majority shareholding in Vititec and FarmMS, added new services and products, spoken out more vocally on industry issues and been instrumental in providing strategic direction.

Levelling the playing field

“We level the playing field so you can focus on playing the game,” says Rico.

Advocacy, specialised services and products, information transfer and the development of people are the four priorities that drive Vinpro’s actions.

Through its involvement in more than 50 forums, it negotiates with government, industry, labour and civil society on behalf of its 2 500 members on legislative, socio-economic, technical and trade-related issues.

Vinpro provides strategic direction by facilitating various projects flowing from the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (Wise). This includes joining forces with the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba) to appoint a stakeholder manager in Pretoria to focus on trade relations. It also implemented the Learner Management System (LMS), an online platform to encourage and grow learning and development. More recently Vinpro has helped formalise a wine tourism strategy with relevant stakeholders and rolled out workshops on how to target specific consumer segments to grow the local wine market.

“The level and breadth of expertise in the Vinpro group is unparalleled in the wine industry,” says Rico. “Here you’ll find everything you need to grow your business – either directly or through industry networks.”

Besides need-driven viticultural consultation provided by regional offices, Vinpro’s specialists help with integrated mapping and soil analyses so the right cultivars are planted or maintained on soils that are suited to them. Shareholding in Vititec provides access to the majority of the industry’s top-quality vine plant material, while the WineMS information management software from affiliate FarmMS helps wine businesses manage close on 70% of the total South African wine grape intake.

Vinpro’s expert agricultural economists help producers benchmark themselves against the rest of the industry, while insights, advocacy and interpretation of factors impacting wine businesses provide added value following the amalgamation with Wine Cellars South Africa in 2013.

A large-scale wine industry commitment to transformation, spearheaded by Vinpro in 2007, resulted in the transformation and development division establishing a BEE (black economic empowerment) advisory desk to support partners in this process.

Vinpro’s newly appointed wine tourism manager, Marisah Nieuwoudt, is dedicated to linking various wine tourism role players to drive this important industry revenue stream.

The expertise provided by all these Vinpro specialists is packaged and shared alongside other crucial industry information on various platforms, including the monthly WineLand magazine, annual SA Wine Industry Directory and Vinpro Cost Guide, e-newsletters, information days, workshops and social media.

“People are the cornerstone of our industry,” Rico says. “Everything the Vinpro team does on a daily basis is focused on growing the industry and its people through close collaboration.”

To this end Vinpro provides technical training for employees at various levels in the wine industry, promotes ethical trade through collaboration with relevant industry bodies such as Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (Wieta) and is actively involved in socio-economic upliftment and promoting responsible alcohol use through Vinpro’s role as chair of the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (Aware).

The Vinpro Foundation, a nonprofit company now in its fifth year, provides funding to support growth and development of people in the wine industry and their communities.

The next chapter

“We’re well on our way to becoming a robust, adaptable, globally competitive and profitable South African wine and brandy industry,” says Rico. “There will always be challenges, but also opportunities. Throughout it all, the sustainability of every link from soil to shelf will remain the compass that guides Vinpro in our actions.” 

New logo

Vinpro revealed its new logo and slogan, “Growing together”, at the annual Nedbank Vinpro Information Day last month. “Growing” refers to an ongoing action, progress and momentum. It also refers to not only the literal growing of the vine, but growth on all levels in the industry, including the development of people. “Together” refers to Vinpro’s respective divisions and affiliates working together towards a common goal, and serves as a call to action for industry role players to join forces and cooperate with all stakeholders that have an effect on the industry.

“The curve in the ‘N’ symbolises both the growth of a plant and the value chain from soil to shelf, and the liaison between industry and government at the top,” says Rico.

Everything the Vinpro team does on a daily basis is focused on growing the industry and its people through close collaboration.

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