Winemakers tap into vegan market

At least 59 South African wines are now certified vegan. File image: Pexels

At least 59 South African wines are now certified vegan. File image: Pexels

Published Nov 27, 2023


Durban — South Africa’s wine industry is among the most competitive in the world, with 18 million glasses of our vino sipped globally every day.

It has given rise to wine tourism, employs 270 000 people and contributes about R55 billion to the country’s annual gross domestic product, says Wines of South Africa.

Now our vintners, who have made the wine industry the eighth biggest in the world, have taken another step to give them the edge by going vegan and ensuring that their wines have the V-label certification.

“The big reason is that in the wine industry it has become an expectation from people overseas,” said Anusha Lakha, the corporate engagement and V-label co-ordinator in South Africa.

She said that worldwide, there was also a growth in the number of “conscious consumers”.

It’s her job to ensure that wines meet the global criteria to be certified vegan.

“Six South African wine companies have been V-label certified,” said Lakha.

The six are Boekenhoutskloof Winery, Longridge Wine Estate, Organic Wine by Sophie Germanier, Vinimark Trading (Pty) Ltd, Robertson Wynmakery as well as Ernie Els Wines which is named after South Africa’s golfing legend.

For vegans, this means 59 wines they can choose from without worrying whether or not it meets their dietary specifications.

“Oxblood was used in the wine fining process a few hundred years ago but that's not done that much, or at all now,” said Lakha.

She said other non-vegan products like egg white, gelatin and fish bladder were commonly used in the fining process yet most bottles listed only grapes and sulfites as their ingredients.

That, said Lakha, was misleading as consumers were then not aware what was vegan.

She said there was now also a shift away from the use of isinglass (a fish gelatin). Instead, wineries were making small easy shifts to vegan products, such as the use of pea protein in wines.

Some wines were labelled vegan but because there wasn’t any industry regulation, it could not be proved, but the V-label, Lakha said, could “provide the seal of reassurance”.

The international organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said on its website that during the winemaking process, the liquid was filtered through fining to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavours and colourings as well as other organic particles.

It said popular fining agents derived from animals included blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fibre from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).

Independent on Saturday