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Delhi Wine Club
India not invited to South Africa Wine Show but Welcome

Posted: Tuesday, 10 July 2012 13:47

India not invited to South Africa Wine Show but Welcome

July 10 : The present negative sentiments about the Indian market for imported wines have taken their toll on the way South African wine producers view the current scenario here with the organizers for the Cape Wine 2012 deciding not to extend hospitality to the importers and journalists from India to the biennial wine show being held in September after a gap of 4 years, writes Subhash Arora

‘At last SA can start to take fellow BRICSA nation and the world’s second most populous market seriously – probably the largest market, as Indian demographics are notoriously dodgy. Marketing SA wine in India got off to a tricky start when the DTI (Department of Trade and Industries) funded two dozen SA producers at a food and wine exhibition in New Delhi three years ago. Alas, most of the DTI seed did not bear fruit as winemakers were reluctant to follow up leads after becoming infected with fleas. The future is unclear with India conspicuously absent from the 2012 WOSA budget, which concentrates most cash on English speaking markets,’ said a post on the  Blog by Neil Pendock, the controversial but independent and widely read, influential wine writer in South Africa and a fellow judge at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles for several years.

Notwithstanding the fact that normally only animals like dog and cats catch fleas and humans rarely suffer from their bites unless they were already infested with them (at least that’s what my research on the Net shows), there were less than a dozen wine producers who took part (the record is with WOSA and  me and can be verified). The attendance at the stalls was excellent and a Seminar on South African Wines was best attended and had more than a full house. Interestingly, the then High Commissioner H.E. Francis Smoloi who came in for 5 minutes to mark his presence and give  a short diplomatic speech to those attending, stayed on till the very end while his wife was waiting and fuming in the car outside the building. Although there are more South African wines in the portfolios of Indian importers since then, perhaps the producers were not satisfied or aggressive enough leaving the Chileans, Italians  and Spanish producers to Bend it like Beckham and grab the market share- and not to forget the recession that had just begun after 9/11 in Mumbai.

‘It’s always been a mystery  why SA should lag behind Chile in wine exports to the subcontinent when the last century’s greatest Indian, Mahatma Gandhi, spent a formative part of his life in SA,’ wonders Neil. Perhaps he doesn’t know that the Mahatma was a staunch opposer of alcohol and the Indian Constitution framed soon after his death had his imprints in Article 47 which directed that the ‘State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health’ that gave an unbridled power to the States to tax such products including wine, at will.

Nick carries his argument a bit too far when he signs off, ‘The legacy of Apartheid lingers’.  Confirming that India was not being invited this year, Michela Stander, Marketing Manager for WOSA for Europe and Asia informs delWine that the Indians would be welcome. ‘Unfortunately, the DTI is not supporting any missions from India to Cape Wine this year and WOSA also does not have the budget to sponsor visitors outside of key activity markets,’ she says. Dispelling any thoughts of Apartheid perhaps echoed in a lighter vein by Neil, she adds, ‘Please let me know if you or anyone you know of, are planning to visit at their own expense. We would be happy to incorporate you into some of the itineraries. The website is now also live at’

Cape Wine, organised by Wines of South Africa (WOSA), is back after four years; the last time it was held was in 2008 in Cape Town. The 2010 edition was skipped due to the FIFA World Cup 2010 hosted by the Springboks. 

Cape Wine is being publicised as the world’s first wine show with a strong accent on environmental sustainability. ‘“Another feature to generate widespread interest in the show is the strong accent on environmental sustainability, in keeping with the country’s very progressive approach to eco-friendly winemaking. We are believed to be the first wine exhibition worldwide to offer recyclable stands to the majority of exhibitors. The locally manufactured high-strength, repulpable composite fibre boards we are using are free of virgin-tree fibers and are fully collapsible for re-use by exhibitors at other events,” says Sue Birch, CEO of WOSA, according to a Press Release.

Birch said the ‘green’ theme was being translated into many facets of the show. Delegates would be accommodated within walking distance of the exhibition and would offset their flights by buying indigenous trees for planting the Winelands.

Included in the regular programme that includes seminars and conferences on different aspects of the South African wine industry, Cape Wine 2012 is also introducing the Producers’ Soapbox, where wine marketers will have 30 minutes to present to a limited audience up to six wines from at least three wineries.

For more information and registration details, click or If you are visiting South Africa in September and would like to get a first hand feel of the South African wines, you may also write to to get you a helping hand.

Subhash Arora  


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