Saving the natural Cape from wine production... 23 November 2005

The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative honours conservation commitments
The wine industry is starting to do its bit to help save the immensely rich Cape Floral Kingdom. An ironical thought, perhaps, when one thinks of those vast monocultural vineyards with all the life other than vines destroyed with the expensive help of the agro-chemical industry.... What chance does the variety of life have when industry starts muscling in?

But a partnership between the Botanical Society of South Africa and the SA Wine and Brandy Company in 2004 is producing some positive results. ‘The BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative) aims to minimise the further loss of threatened natural habitat, and to contribute to sustainable wine production, through the adoption of biodiversity guidelines by the South African wine industry’, says Dr. Bruce McKenzie, director of the Botanical Society.

Nearly 12 000 hectares of pristine natural vegetation has been secured for conservation so far. This was announced at a function held recently at Hartenberg estate to honour the conservation commitment of the first batch of Biodiversity and Wine Initiative members (listed below). Says BWI project director, Tony Hansen: ‘This is only the beginning of a huge contribution that the South African wine industry will be making to conserve the biodiversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom for future generations.’ He adds, hopefully: ‘Projecting forward, if 50% of the wine industry's 5000 farmers and cellars sign up with the BWI, over one million hectares of natural vegetation could be preserved.’

BWI membership is the entry level, and championship the highest level for those producers demonstrating exceptional conservation land management. So far there is one champion, Vergelegen. Biodiversity guidelines have also been incorporated into the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) guidelines, certification of which provides assurance to wine buyers of sustainable farming practices.

BWI members are also encouraged to showcase their natural environment as well as their wines by incorporating ecotourism activities such as a hiking trail or bird-hide on the farm, thereby appealing to a much wider range of visitors than wine tourism alone. The world’s first biodiversity wine route, the Green Mountain Eco Route has recently been launched in the Overberg region of Elgin, Bot River and Villiersdorp.

WOSA will actively promote the BWI to producers, and will be showcasing the industry’s commitment to biodiversity at Cape Wine 2006, in April next year.

• For more information on the BWI, visit its website.

BWI members (showing the land conserved):

  • Vergelegen (581ha)


  • Mooiplaas (60ha)
  • Koopmanskloof (70ha)
  • Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards (45ha)
  • Montagne (80ha)
  • Delheim (89ha)
  • Louisenhof (50ha)
  • Oak Valley Wines (500ha)
  • Avondale (25ha)
  • Hartenberg (30ha)
  • Backsberg (30ha)
  • Towers (345ha)
  • Spier Wines (180ha)
  • Black Pearl Wines (184ha)
  • Waterkloof (False Bay Vineyards) (75ha)
  • Beaumont Wines (361ha)
  • Plaisir de Merle (500ha)
  • De Grendel (150ha)
  • Boschendal (1 024ha)
  • Paul Cluver Wines (1 013)
  • Glenwood (8ha)

Co-op members:          

  • Rooiberg Winery (8 farms)       Robertson        6 343ha

Total = 11 743ha