For more than 350 years, the cultures of Africa, Europe and the East have mingled in Cape Town, gateway to the South African winelands, a city rich in colourful history and culturally vibrant. It was here that Nelson Mandela, in 1990, took his historic walk to freedom. Today South Africa, a country of enormous diversity, is a peaceful democracy, home to the 'rainbow nation'.

The breaking down of political barriers and the redressing of historical wrongs in South Africa has seen people from disadvantaged communities emerge as winegrowers and winemakers in the Cape winelands for the first time. Historically, they provided the labour on which the industry is based. Currently, over 160 000 people from historically disadvantaged groups are employed in the South African wine industry, which employs approximately 300 000 people, both directly and indirectly, including wine tourism.

Part of the process of redressing imbalances is an ongoing education drive, spearheaded by various trusts and initiatives. A number of Cape wine farmers have also established joint ventures with their workers to give them part ownership and to transfer skills in wine farm management as well as winemaking. There have also been a number of private initiatives to extend vineyard ownership to communities living in winemaking regions, where proceeds from wine sales are used to improve the quality of life of residents.

Some 98% of SA wine producers contribute voluntarily to – previously known as the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) fund – to which the wine industry currently contributes 25%, the spirits industry 25% and the beer industry 50%. Read more here

The Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (WISE) has set clear goals for this sector by 2025, including boosting jobs to 375 000 and growing the value of wine tourism from R6bn to R15bn. Read more here

A bold step towards improved labour relations in the Western Cape’s fruit and wine sectors was taken on Monday, 1 June 2015 in Paarl when two key industry bodies, HORTGRO and VinPro, and a national trade union in agriculture, Food & Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to that effect. Read more here.

In 2015, the Western Cape (WC) Government embarked on a programme to identify the economic sectors that will provide the greatest growth and job creation over the next five years. Called Project Khulisa, which means ‘to grow’ in isiXhosa, this project includes engagement with industry and other spheres of government to ensure consensus and a combined approach in implementing practical projects to drive growth. The project is currently in its first phase, which will run until 2019. Through Project Khulisa, the WC Government selected to focus on sectors which showed significant potential. These are tourism, agri-processing, and oil and gas. To grow agri-processing, the target of increasing wine exports to strategic markets and accelerating the pace of transformation in the industry was set.

Black Economic Empowerment
Read more about BEE

Black-owned Brands
Access a list of black-owned wine brands 

Corporate Social Investment
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View/download e-books documenting transformation in the winelands

Education Initiatives
Information on education programmes

Empowerment Projects
Read about a number of successful ventures

Related Links
Browse websites related to empowerment & transformation

Social Issues
Access more information on social issues in the winelands

Transformation Q & A
Access Q & A on transformation in the South African winelands

View/download videos documenting transformation in the winelands