Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersen has appointed new industry experts to the Wine and Spirit Board. It will bring new thinking and an extensive skills base to the deliberations of the board, says its new chairman, Matome Mbatha, himself a marketing specialist.
Matome Mbatha, WOSA market manager for Americas and Africa.
Representing a well-balanced blend of technical and industry expertise, the board comprises 13 members of whom eight are from the industry. Of the remaining five, three are from the Department of Agriculture, one is the minister's personal representative and the Agricultural Research Council nominates one.
Among the eight industry members, four are young winemakers: Deon Boshoff, a cellar master at Distell, Olivia Poona from Robertson Winery, Carmen Stevens of Amani Vineyards near Stellenbosch, and Mario Damon from Bellingham.
The other industry representatives are Kurt Moore, CEO of SALBA (SA Liquor Brand Owners' Association), Michael Mokhoro of Distell's legal department who was previously the chairman of ARA (Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use), and Riaan Kruger, chairman of the Wine and Spirit Board's management committee.
Mbatha has been WOSA's marketing manager for the Americas and Africa since 2008. He is the first black chairman selected from within industry ranks.
Commenting on his appointment, a senior industry spokesperson said that with his understanding of the dynamics of international markets, Mbatha was well placed to support the growth of wine as one of South Africa's key agricultural exports.
Mbatha said significant challenges awaited the new board, appointed for three years. "One of our main functions is overseeing the certification of wine and estate brandy in respect of cultivar, vintage and origin. In addition, we issue a traceable integrity and sustainability seal, attesting to production integrity at every stage of the supply chain from vineyard to bottle.
"In 2012 the South African wine industry introduced a second, ethical seal confirming that fair and reasonable working conditions existed in the production of a particular wine. One of the tasks of the new board will be to combine, by 2016, the two seals into a single one, which will attest to both the environmental and social sustainability of our wines.
"A highly progressive initiative that will certainly offer South Africa a competitive advantage, the combined seal will provide consumers of our wines worldwide with the guarantee that their purchases are underpinned by production integrity and fair labour practices," he concludes.