VinPro and Stellenbosch University to revive experimental vineyards

VinPro, South Africa’s wine body, has partnered with Stellenbosch University on a project to revive experimental vineyards and provide a world class training ground for the next generation of viticulture students and researchers.

Stakeholders in the Welgevallen vineyard revival: VinPro md Rico Basson, project leader Francois Viljoen, Dr Benoit Divol, head of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology, and dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences Prof Danie Brink

The two organisations are establishing six experimental vineyards at Welgevallen which will see 4.92 hectares replanted with new vines. Providing a training ground for students and researchers at the University’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology, each vineyard demonstrates different aspect of study, including winemaking, trellis systems, pruning, new cultivars, clones and rootstocks, an irrigation block and a table grape trellis programme.

One block that is currently in commercial use will be retained.

The Welgevallen/ VinPro Vineyard Project is being funded by the University’s AgriScience Faculty, but Vinpro will drive the project over the next three years, a part of its ‘Gen-Z Vineyard Project’, which aims to facilitate skills transfer through practical demonstrations and vineyard trails.

VinPro MD Rico Basson said it was a privilege for the industry to work together to create a world-class site that would take training in viticulture and oenology to the next level.

The organisation is inviting winemakers, viticulturists, and producers in the South African wine industry to collaborate on the project in order to share knowledge, learning and networks with the next generation.

“We also look forward to the synergies that will flow from this partnership into other areas for collaboration,” he said.

So far, Bosman Adama, Fleury, Hexberg, Vititec and Voor Groenberg Nurseries are already involved in the project.

Prof Danie Brink, dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences said the joint-project would close to the gap between the academia and the private sector and create a platform for innovation and creative learning.

It comes as the University launches a more forward-thinking curriculum that aims to better integrate theory with practice.

“The students will definitely benefit from practical exposure to the variety of cultivars and techniques showcased in these new vineyards,” Dr Benoit Divol, head of the SU’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology added.

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