Groote Post Wines, a producer of premium wines on the Cape West Coast, is one of several South African wine producers that are feeling the effects of the ongoing load shedding struggles in the country. Power outages are having a significant impact on their production as well as the industry as a whole.
“Load shedding has forced us to constantly readjust our production and vineyard management,” says Peter Pentz, communications manager.
Wineries such as Groote Post have had to rely on generators to keep production going, despite the rising fuel prices in South Africa. “The costs of running a generator are extremely high, which significantly raises production costs.” This, however, is not a cost that the wine estate can pass on to the end consumer, as Pentz explains, as it is a very competitive industry, and they need to keep costs low.
Producers are facing challenges not only in the cellar, but also in the vineyards, particularly with the threat of rolling blackouts during the harvest season at hand. He goes on to say that where vine irrigation is required, a continuous supply of water is required. Failure to do so can have serious consequences for the quality of the grapes.
While wineries are suffering from frequent power outages, Pentz notes that there are several alternative power supply options available, but the ultimate responsibility remains with Eskom.
“Eskom has to get its ducks in a row,” Pentz says. “Alternative energy production, such as solar and wind energy, are viable options, but the initial investment is prohibitively expensive. That is still not the final solution, and the onus is on the national energy supplier to sustainably supply us with power.”
Despite these obstacles, Groote Post is determined to continue producing high-quality wines. “We have backup generators and other measures in place to mitigate the impact of the power outages,” Pentz says. “We’re also keeping a close eye on the situation and collaborating with industry leaders to find solutions to the ongoing load-shedding crisis.”