When it comes to wine, origin matters
Epic MSLGROUP - Feb 14th 2018, 11:22
Have you ever noticed the letters “W.O.”, followed by the name of an area or region, on the back of your favourite bottle of wine? Simply put, the acronym “W.O.” is short for the term “Wine of Origin”, which stands as a confirmation that all the grapes used to make that particular bottle of wine were harvested from that specific area.
Officially instituted in 1973 – the South African Wine of Origin certification scheme aims to ensure that the country’s most admired wine producers adhere to a legislative origin control system regulating how wine regions are defined and represented on their wine labels.
According to Elize Coetzee, Cellar Master at Zonnebloem wines, this is important because by knowing a wine’s origin, a consumer is able to understand the wine’s terroir – another expression that can cause a great deal of confusion for the average wine-drinker. “Terroir, which refers to the impact that the climate, soils, and terrain of a particular area has on the taste of a wine, is vitally important as some regions are naturally superior in terroir to others, based on their natural surroundings and geological makeup.”
Often compared to the likes of Bordeaux in France and Napa Valley in California, a local example of a wine-producing region of this standard is Stellenbosch, says Coetzee. “Home to more than 200 wine and grape producers, Stellenbosch has become known for producing excellent, award-winning wines – a reputation that can definitely be ascribed, in part, to the region’s superior terroir."
“With plenty of sun, but reasonable temperatures, the well-drained weathered soil found in Stellenbosch provides the perfect foundation for the production of top quality grapes,” she explains.
Coetzee warns, however, that just knowing a wine is produced in Stellenbosch does not necessarily mean the grapes being used are from the area of Stellenbosch. “This is where the term ‘Wine of Origin’ becomes so important, because if a bottle includes the phrase ‘W.O. Stellenbosch on its label, you can be certain that 100% of the grapes from which the wine is made, do in fact come from Stellenbosch."
This is why Zonnebloem wears the W.O Stellenbosch badge so proudly on our bottles, she says. “As we do not have our own farm, the brand is privileged to obtain grapes from the entire region – affording us the ability to carefully select which grapes we use, which ties into our age-old ability to craft classic wines – an art which the winemakers have continued to perfect over the years.”
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