When asked about the importance of certification on a label, he said: “How are you going to relay that message to the customer? Put it on your label. … Another country that’s doing something is South Africa. There’s a number on the top of the bottle neck. The industry can take that number and trace it back to the acre those grapes were grown in and the day they were picked. They follow the grapes from planting to harvest to the winery they went to, when it was bottled, when it was shipped; they track it to the port. That’s certification.”
What a compliment to the South Africa certification system and while winemakers and industry players understand the certification system very well, I am not sure that consumers always realise the importance of the ticket on the neck of the bottle.
According to the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems, better known as SAWIS, a certification seal appears on each container of wine or estate brandy which has been certified by the Wine and Spirit Board.
If consumers would be interested in the origin of their wine or needs a guarantee that they are getting what they should, they can use the numbers on these seals to trace back the wine. SAWIS’ Seal Search will give the consumer the information guaranteeing all claims made on the label.
For instance, when I used a seal code from a bottle of 2010 La Motte Shiraz and typed it into the search option, I got the following results:
To ensure the information is accurate, a dedicated administration and certification process is followed and strict control is administered throughout the following processes:
- In the Vineyard
- When applications for the pressing of grapes is made
- Scientific analysis
- Preliminary approval
- Final Organoleptic approval
While a guarantee of origin, vintage and variety as stated on the wine label – as in the above description – this seal is also a guarantee that the wine complies with IPW criteria.
IPW or the Integrated Production of Wine certifies sustainable production and traceability up to product level.
When a bottle of wine carries this seal, customers can access the Sustainable Wines South Africa Website, enter the seal numbers and trace their bottle of wine all the way back while at the same time offering a guarantee of sustainable and environmentally friendly production.
Consumers of South African wine internationally can therefore be guaranteed that when a wine has the Certification/IPW seal displayed on the neck of the bottle:
- all the claims on the label with regard to vintage, origin and cultivar are true
- when evaluated by the Board, the wine was of good quality with regard to clarity, colour, flavour and taste
- vineyard and cellar practices are done in a way that is both sustainably and environmentally friendly
So if there ever was a reason to enjoy South African wine…