Vinpro and Stellenbosch University revive vineyards

Stakeholders in the Welgevallen vineyard revival: Rico Basson (Vinpro), Francois Viljoen (Vinpro), Dr Benoit Divol (SU) and Prof Danie Brink (SU).

Stellenbosch University (SU) has partnered with the South African wine industry body Vinpro to drive the revival of its experimental vineyards, turning it into a world-class site for practical skills transfer.

The Welgevallen/Vinpro Vineyard Project will see 4,92ha of new vines planted in August 2020, replacing all current vines except for a commercial block that is currently in use.

Skills transference through vineyard trails

Six distinct experimental vineyards will be established to demonstrate specific aspects to the students and researchers at the University’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology. These include winemaking, trellis systems, pruning, new cultivars, clones and rootstocks, an irrigation block and a table grape trellis programme.

The SU’s Faculty of AgriSciences funds the project and has appointed Vinpro to drive it over the next three years as part of its Gen-Z Vineyard Project which aims to facilitate skills transfer through practical demonstrations and vineyard trials.

Fostering innovation and creative learning

“By partnering with Vinpro on the Welgevallen renewal project we’ve managed to close to the gap between the academia and the private sector while creating a platform for innovation and creative learning,” said Prof Danie Brink, dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences.

“It is a privilege for us as an industry to help put together a world-class site that will take tertiary education and training in viticulture and oenology to the next level. We also look forward to the synergies that will flow from this partnership into other areas for collaboration,” said Vinpro MD, Rico Basson.

Benefiting from practical exposure

Dr Benoit Divol, head of the SU’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology says the re-establishment of the Welgevallen vineyards coincides well with a new, more forward-thinking curriculum which integrates theory with practice. “The students will definitely benefit from practical exposure to the variety of cultivars and techniques showcased in these new vineyards,” he said.

Vinpro and the SU sign a partnership to revive the Welgevallen experimental farm (from left): Rico Basson (Vinpro MD), Anton Smuts (Vinpro chair) and Prof Danie Brink (SU).

To project leader Francois Viljoen, it’s important that winemakers, viticulturists and other industry role-players support their alma mater by sharing their knowledge, practical learnings and networks with the next generation. “We would like to invite any input suppliers or other industry role-players to collaborate with us on the project in terms of their expertise, products or services,” he said.

Suppliers who have come on board thus far include Bosman Adama, Fleury, Hexberg, Vititec and Voor Groenberg Nurseries. – Press release, Vinpro Media

For more information on the project, contact Emma Carkeek on tel 021 276 0429 or email