South African wine industry delivers exceptional harvest despite climatic challenges

Despite facing frost, floods, and unpredictable weather, South African wine producers have delivered an exceptional 2024 harvest, according to a recent report. This season showcases the industry’s adaptability and resilience, promising wines of outstanding quality.

The current report indicates that’s that the 2024 harvest season has been a journey defined by meticulous planning, and the adaptability of wine producers in response to diverse climatic challenges and disruptions.

According to South Africa Wine, harvesting season was a true test of the South African wine industry’s resilience. “Despite facing diverse and demanding climatic events, from frost and heavy winter rainfall to floods and wind, the industry’s adaptability and nimbleness transformed this harvest into one of the most remarkable in recent memory,” South Africa Wine said in a statement.

“With optimal ripening tempo, small berries and moderate, dry conditions during harvest, the stage is set for wines of unparalleled excellence to supply the domestic and more than 120 global markets,” they further added.

Vinpro consultation services manager Dr Etienne Terblanche said excellent winter conditions in most wine-grape growing regions raised high expectations for the harvest.”

“One of the standout aspects of this season was the exceptional sanitary condition of the grapes – a rarity in rainy harvest seasons and a testament to the industry’s resilience and adaptability,” he further said.

South Africa Wine chief executive officer Rico Basson said the 2023/2024 season may have presented its share of obstacles, but it has also showcased the resilience and determination of the South African wine industry.

“This industry stands resilient, with our wine stock now in equilibrium. Despite fluctuations in harvest yields and vineyard surface areas, we are primed and prepared to supply the world with exceptional quality and distinctive wines,” Basson expressed.

“The South African wine industry is undergoing a strategic repositioning, shifting our focus to value growth. Through reinvestment for growth and collaborative strategies, we are forging a path to strengthen our industry and propel us towards a future of quality, innovation, and sustainability,” he said.
The 2024 grape harvest yielded 1,099,051 tonnes from 87,848ha, a 7% decrease from 2023, according to SAWIS. This, combined with strong market demand, has balanced the industry’s wine stock levels, unlike some competitors who face a surplus and drastic measures like uprooting vineyards. Lower volumes create cost pressures, but they also support the sector’s commitment to value growth.

The total wine harvest, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling, is estimated at 857m litres, with a recovery rate of 780 litres per tonne of grapes.

Early cultivars had lighter yields across most regions, while later red cultivars generally improved. Winemakers are optimistic about the overall quality, especially full-bodied red wines with excellent colour and tannin extraction. White wines are expected to be fresh with ample texture.

South Africa is the world’s seventh-largest wine producer, contributing about 4% of the world’s wine. The industry adds more than R56.5bn to the country’s GDP and employs 270,364 people across the value chain, including 85,962 on farms and in cellars.

Regional Production Highlights:

Breedekloof: Optimal grape analyses and good colour in red wines.

Cape South Coast: Healthy grapes due to low rainfall during harvest, with good quality despite lower juice recoveries.

Cape Town: Good flavour intensity in white wines and promising colour development in red wines.

Klein Karoo: High rainfall and good wine quality, highlighting the importance of rainfall timing.

Northern Cape: Riper, tropical wine profile with better-than-expected quality in red cultivars.

Olifants River: Despite flood damage, yields matched the previous season, with disease control methods improving wine quality.

Paarl: A wet and cold winter followed by a hot January affected crop size, but the region saw good variation in yields and wine quality.

Robertson: High humidity challenged early cultivars, but overall grape health and wine quality were good.

Stellenbosch: Significant early rainfall followed by a dry summer led to lighter yields for early cultivars, but good grape quality.

Swartland: Despite a lighter yield, the quality of grapes was good, especially for red wines.

Worcester: Optimal ripeness and sugar levels in most grapes, with improved colour development in red cultivars. New plantings are enhancing the region’s red wine output.

Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants 2024 Just Revealed

Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants List 2024 paints a vibrant portrait of Canada’s culinary scene. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Canada’s 100 Best.

“The quality of our list and the publication we build around it is better than ever. The result is an asset to discriminating diners – locals and travellers alike,” said Jacob Richler. “It’s a great time to be dining out in Canada.”

How restaurants are selected?
A panel of 150 judges is assembled to vote for restaurants based on the complete dining experience: service, décor, the depth of the cellar — and, above all else, food quality. Each judge must vote for a minimum of three restaurants outside of their home region. The panel includes informed culinary enthusiasts, food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and other food-service professionals.

Here are some of the winners:

THE 2024 TOP 10 BEST RESTAURANTS:

Mon Lapin (Montreal, QC)
Edulis (Toronto, ON)
Alo (Toronto, ON)
20 Victoria (Toronto, ON)
Langdon Hall (Cambridge, ON)
Restaurant Pearl Morissette (Jordan Station, ON)
Published on Main (Vancouver, BC)
Beba (Montreal, QC)
Bar Kismet (Halifax, NS)
Kissa Tanto (Vancouver, BC)

THE 2024 TOP 10 BEST NEW RESTAURANTS:

Marilena (Victoria, BC)
Casa Paco (Toronto, ON)
Sushi Yugen (Toronto, ON)
Bar Prima (Toronto, ON)
Sabayon (Montreal, QC)
Casavant (Montreal, QC)
Espace Old Mill (Stanbridge, QC)
Buvette Daphnée (Ottawa, ON)
Parapluie (Montreal, QC)
Magari by Oca (Vancouver, BC)

Other Awards go to:

Best New Restaurant (sponsored by Tourisme Montréal): Marilena Café + Raw Bar (Victoria, BC)

Best Restaurant (sponsored by Nespresso Professional): Mon Lapin (Montreal, QC)

Best Sommelier team (sponsored by Lingua Franca): Vanya Filipovic and Alex Landry at Mon Lapin (Montreal, QC)

Best Pastry Chef: Kenta Takahashi, Boulevard, Vancouver (3 TIME WINNER)

People’s Choice Award (sponsored by Uber Eats): Änkôr (Canmore, AB)

Best Destination Restaurant (sponsored by Champlain at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac): Langdon Hall (Cambridge, ON)

Best New Restaurant Design: Bar Prima (Toronto, ON)

The American Express Award for Community Leadership: Paul Toussaint at Kamúy (Montreal, QC)

BEST BARS

The 2024 issue also includes Canada’s 50 Best Bars – useful reviews on where to sip across the nation – including a focus on summer patios. 

THE 2024 TOP 10 BEST BARS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE:

Bar Pompette (Toronto, ON)
Civil Liberties (Toronto, ON)
Cloakroom Bar (Montreal, QC)
Atwater Cocktail Club (Montreal, QC)
Bar Mordecai (Toronto, ON)
Library Bar at The Fairmont Royal York (Toronto, ON)
Dear Friend Bar (Dartmouth, NS)
The Keefer Bar (Vancouver, BC)
Cocktail Bar (Toronto, ON)
Proof (Calgary, AB)

Here is the link to all the winners:
https://canadas100best.com/

Italian Wine Travel Pioneer and Writer Filippo Magnani Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge in Italy

Celebrating a quarter-century of excellence, Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge, led by Filippo Magnani, commemorates its 25th anniversary, marking a significant milestone in delivering unparalleled wine travel experiences throughout Italy. As a renowned wine travel expert and wine writer, Magnani has spent decades exploring and documenting Italy’s rich wine heritage, showcasing its diverse destinations and the personalities behind its celebrated wines. This occasion reflects not only the success of Fufluns Wine Tours but also Magnani’s contributions to the global appreciation of Italian wine culture through his writings and curated experiences.

Castello di Monsanto, Barberino Val d’Elsa , Chianti, Toscana, Italia

Inspired by the flourishing wine tourism industry in Napa Valley during the 1990s, Magnani recognized Italy’s untapped potential and sought to elevate the wine touring experience in his native country. In July 1999, he founded Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge, pioneering the path as the first Italian wine travel planner dedicated exclusively to Italy’s rich wine heritage. Named after the Etruscan God of Wine, Fufluns, under Magnani’s stewardship, has built a reputation for its immersive itineraries that seamlessly blend ultra luxury experiences with Italy’s undiscovered gems. Fufluns unwavering commitment to authenticity, quality, and personalization has cemented its status as a leader in the industry, creating the opportunity for people from around the world to engage with the wine regions and people of Italy.

“Reflecting on 25 years of Fufluns Wine Tours, I am filled with gratitude for this quest we’ve undertaken,” says Filippo Magnani, Founder and Supervisor, who oversees a team of ten wine expert guides – all holding WSET or Master Sommelier certifications. “We craft a diverse range of thoughtfully designed wine travel experiences led by a team of knowledgeable wine experts, ensuring an authentic and enriching experience for each guest, from avid wine enthusiasts and collectors to wine schools, wine clubs, and industry professionals such as sommeliers and importers.”

Magnani’s extensive experience in the wine trade, including holding the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (DipWSET), as a wine writer, and wine travel advisor, has enriched Fufluns’ offerings with depth and sophistication. His and his team’s commitment to excellence and their ability to weave together the cultural, historical, and sensory aspects of Italian wine make Fufluns Wine Tours not just a journey, but a celebration of Italy’s enduring wine legacy.

To celebrate the company’s 25th Anniversary, Magnani and his team are thrilled to debut an enhanced Fufluns website, featuring a range of new personalized, comprehensive, and deluxe wine itineraries throughout Italy. Visit www.fufluns.com to learn more. Filippo is also pleased to showcase a refreshed version of his personal website, www.filippomagani.it, focused on his writings and collaborations, consulting experiences, and career achievements.

In addition, Magnani is proud to announce the launch of a quarterly newsletter, along with a new logo ”A Journey Through Italian Wines”. Featuring captivating insights into Italy’s wine destinations, exclusive interviews with key personalities in the wine and hospitality industry, detailed wine tasting notes, and selected excerpts from Magnani’s personal blog, Tales Behind The Wines, this newsletter aims to further enrich the understanding and appreciation of Italian wine culture among enthusiasts and professionals worldwide.

Furthermore, throughout 2024, Magnani will personally lead tours for various wine club groups and private wine collectors across Italy. These tours, featuring long-standing partners and loyal clients, are a special celebration of Fufluns’ 25th anniversary, allowing Magnani to share the beauty and richness of Italy’s wine regions and producers with those who have supported his journey. As Fufluns continues to innovate in the wine travel space, Magnani’s goal is to strengthen his expert team, further enhancing Fufluns’ ability to offer unique and memorable wine experiences while maintaining the personal touch that has distinguished them in the industry.

Magnani will also be participating in a charity auction as part of The Golden Vines Awards this October in Madrid. For this event, he has created a special auction item: “VIP Experience — Discovering the Iconic Bolgheri”, in which he will personally accompany six passionate donors on a visit to the historic estates of this famed Tuscan region. All proceeds will be donated entirely to the Gérard Basset Foundation.

Source: Fufluns Wine Tours

Duero Wine Fest 3rd Edition – Part 2

Juan García-Gallardo, Vice President of Junta de Castilla y León opened the Duero Wine Fest 3rd Edition this week in the beautiful Spanish Renaissance city of Salamanca.

He stated that wine is “one of the oils” of the economy of Castilla y León and the its importance.

“It is a fundamental part of the economy of Castilla y León, one of the oil and major sources of wealth, García-Gallardo states, highlighting that the turnover is almost one billion euros, provides 33,000 jobs, and contributes almost 4% of the Gross Domestic Product of Castilla y León.”

García-Gallardo also values the progress taken by the wineries from this region, highlighting that the Ribera del Duero denomination has overtaken Rioja. He further states: “We are going to continue supporting the 16 designations of origin so that they continue to grow in market share, so that they continue to have more facilities and so that they continue to conquer different markets.”

The Duero Wine Fest closed on Tuesday with over 400 attendees. Some key topics for the closing day included: the decline in wine consumption; the importance of the promotion of wine tourism, and the use of technology to reach consumers.

Wine tourism – Global Trends was the main topic of a presentation given by Gergely Szolnok, Professor of Market Research at Geisenheim University. He presented his studies which showed that 80 percent of tourists are not interested in visiting a winery, so wineries must “change their strategies and focus on that type of visitor, seeking to attract them.”

Some of the modifications he recommended include combining gastronomy with wine tourism, taking sustainability into account and adding more innovative aspects such as digital tours or facilitating access for caravan tourism, which is the new big thing!

He also highlighted the importance of the wineries themselves being well-managed, not only in their administrative, production, marketing or vineyard management, but also in terms of the clients and visitors they receive.

The importance of wine tourism was also discussed by Ignacio Gurría, who stated that wine tourism is “the spearhead of wine sales.” In his opinion, wine tourism can be an opportunity to improve consumption.

In his lecture, Impact of New Technologies on the Promotion and Marketing of Douro Wines, Ignacio Gurría, Executive Director of the working group of the Digitalisation and Wine Hub of the FEV (Digitalisation and Wine Markets),
shared his position on digitalization and wine markets and encouraged wineries to implement a digitalization strategy in their marketing program: “In technology you are never late, you arrive good or bad, that is the reality; it is not a question of time, but to do it well” he states.

For digitalization, he further urged wineries to have websites, to have their digital presence controlled, and he insisted on having good data: “Good data is valuable to the winery, which should be the objective.

The congress was promoted by the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development of the Government of Castilla y León through the Agrarian Technological Institute, which has the objective is to position the Duero as one of the most important wine rivers in the world.

The main objective of the International “Duero Wine” Congress is to value the hydrographic basin of the Duero River as a unique territory, sustaining quality wines with different personalities, disparate flavors, to which are added the wines of Bierzo, endowed with its characteristic Atlantic nature, and the singularities of Sierra de Salamanca and Cebreros.

The Duero Wine Fest 2024 presentations can be seen on the congress’s YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/@duerowinefest2024/videos

Anteprima della Vernaccia di San Gimignano, discovering a truly unique wine in Tuscany “The White Queen in a Land of Red Kings” – Filippo Magnani

A few weeks ago, experts, wine enthusiasts and the press gathered in the charming town of San Gimignano on February 16th to taste not only the new vintages of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, but also the reserve wines not yet released on the market. 41 wineries and 96 wines were presented to the Italian and international press at the De Grada Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, in the historical centre of San Gimignano.

The following two weekends the wines were also presented to 200 wine trade and wine enthusiasts at the Rocca di Montestaffoli, home of the Vernaccia Wine Experience. Here we had the extraordinary opportunity to meet the “unique, noble and rebellious” White Queen Vernaccia di San Gimignano! This is the only DOCG white wine to be produced in Tuscany where illustrious reds such as Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico usually take centre stage. United by a great passion for this grape and territory, the Consortium celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. It continues to support those who are the custodians and greatest interpreters of an age-old white wine tradition.

During this year’s event, Master of Wine Gabriele Gorelli conducted a Masterclass called “Timeless Vernaccia” with a vertical tasting of vintages going back as far as 1997, which was a wonderful chance to experience the results achieved with this grape over time and appreciate the longevity of the wines. The President of the Consortium described the latest vintage as a record year due to the continuing drought and high temperatures: “These did not, however, prevent Vernaccia di San Gimignano from reacting masterfully, once again, to the year’s climatic challenges, proving that this ancient, native grape variety has evolved in perfect harmony with its terroir.”

The Ancient Hills

As the cradle of white wine production in Tuscany, San Gimigano’s territory is situated completely on hills with variable exposures and altitudes of between 200 and 400m above sea level. Its ancient soils have high concentrations of fossils, shells, calcareous sediments, and clay. This composition is ideal for producing vigorous and mineral-driven white wines, and the unique combinations of all these factors, even in such a small area, make the wines produced in this denomination extremely fascinating and complex. Vernaccia is an ancient grape that, although grown throughout Italy, thrives particularly well here in San Gimignano which has become its spiritual home.  Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first Italian wine to be granted DOC status in 1966. It was elevated to DOCG status in 1993, confirming its role as the leading white wine in Tuscany.

San Gigmignano, An Alluring Wine Destination

Almost half of San Gimignano is dedicated to farm production (vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and grains). It is a place where man and nature have lived together for centuries in a mutual relationship of respect. Tucked away in the Tuscan countryside, San Gimignano warmly welcomes wine enthusiasts from all over the world. It is located almost halfway between Florence and Siena (about 60 and 45 km) and is easily reachable by car or by bus. Historically the town was a place loved by important nobles and political figures of the past who left a trace of their passage, enriching this unique place with culture and art. It is known as the “Town of Towers” because in the first centuries after 1000 AD it was embellished with seventy towers and numerous palaces, built by the many wealthy families to display their wealth and power. Today 14 towers remain to create an unmistakable silhouette overlooking the surrounding Tuscan hills.