South Africa’s leading producers have launched the Cape Vintner Classification in an attempt to establish a system of accreditation for distinctive, site-specific wines.

The new classification system aims to ensure quality Cape wines are recognised alongside the best in the world.

The organisers hope it will “provide assurance to customers of the integrity of its members”.

Founding member Johann Rupert, a wine entrepreneur and luxury goods tycoon who is listed by Forbes as the 179th richest billionaire in the world, said: “The Cape has more than three-and-a-half centuries of winemaking culture and vintners who have passed their knowledge of soils and vineyards from one generation to the next.

“We produce many world-class wines and it’s time that our top producers begin telling their story a little more forcefully and the CVC is the ideal vehicle to do this.”

There will be three tiers: Site Specific Wines, which have the highest acclaim due to a proven track record in the market; Estate Wines; and Wines of Origin.

Only Site Specific and Estate Wines can use CVC branding in full on packaging and promotional material.

CVC has been developed for two years and will ensure all members meet ownership and minimum capacity requirements. Members will be audited to ensure they adhere to the four key membership criteria:

  • Members must be able to clearly demonstrate that their wines are crafted taking full cognisance of the importance of its facilities and its impact on the environment.
  • Members of the public will be able to visit these CVC estates and enjoy exceptional levels of hospitality.
  • All members will have a recognized and acknowledged ethical accreditation based on the International Labour Conventions Ethical Trading Initiative, incorporating South African labour legislation.
  • The winemaker will present the estate’s wines to an independent committee and will be required to articulate the uniqueness of the vineyards’ terrain and the impact of the winemaking intervention.

The programme begins in January.