Vititec, the trusted producer of high quality clonal material free from harmful viruses and virus-like diseases, and home to 3 million grafted vines, today celebrates 10 years of excellence in collaboration with seven independent nurseries in isolated areas.
Previously known as KWV Plant Improvement and responsible for 70% of the industry’s plant material, Vititec has gone from strength to strength and today the company delivers more than 90% of the scion plant material and nearly 50% of rootstock plant material to the South African wine industry.
From humble beginnings Vititec initially focussed on the needs of the wine industry by supplying the best possible plant material. This soon changed into a more holistic approach, with the establishment an advanced technological vine plant improvement programme, while supplying the industry with new, clonal material free from harmful viruses.
Wholly owned by Vinpro, the representative organisation for 2 500 South African wine producers, Vititec today employs 45 workers. This highly skilled force deals with imports, testing and propagation of new clonal material, as well as detection and eradication of harmful viruses.
Situated in Paarl, with premises in Vredendal and the Grondves farm just outside Stellenbosch, Vititec’s daily operations include the development, production, marketing and supply of viticultural and oenological selected plant material in the form of grafted vines and vine plant material suitable for grafting.
Over the past ten years, Vititec celebrated various highlights including the initiation of a very successful leafroll virus elimination programme, as well as maintaining mother blocks which supply premium grafting material to South African vine nurseries, thus playing a cardinal role in the origin of wine itself.
“Keeping our vines healthy and virus free, means South Africa can produce wines of excellent quality,” says Nico Spreeth, Vititec CEO.
Other highlights include switching from overhead irrigation used in the nurseries where the vines were cultivated to drip irrigation, which led to improved quality vines, saving water and investing in a sustainable future. Vititec also signed a contract with ENTAV-INRA® (Institut Francais de la Vigne et du Vin) to import clones from France to South Africa, thus putting South Africa on the map with quality plant material and helping the industry prosper.
The company today boasts a laboratory and insect-free greenhouses at the Paarl premises where virus elimination takes place and nucleus plants are maintained. Various sheds, tunnels and cold storage facilities are used for callusing grafted and cartonage vines, the storage of budwood, rootstock and grafted vines throughout the season. Vititec also employs technicians who now inspect and maintain 1 300 ha of scion and 400 ha rootstock mother blocks.
One of its latest and biggest assets, the clonal garden at the Vinpro offices, stands proud with 95% of all clones found in the South African wine industry.
“What better place to have these new clones and cultivars than at our own home?” says Spreeth. “It’s perfect for data collection and demonstrations, as well as winemaking. The future of exceptional quality South African wine depends on Vititec’s genepool of plant material. We are the custodians of, and must provide, the best possible vines.”