Schalk Opperman, Quoin Rock’s award-winning winemaker, takes a look in his crystal wine glass to share his predictions for the upcoming year.
With the uncertainty that 2020 has unleashed on the South African wine industry, accurately predicting the next wine craze is no easy task. From alcohol bans to beach closures, it is impossible to know what is waiting for us around the next corner, and Covid-19 has certainly made life difficult for us oenophiles. The pandemic has complicated just about everything to do with the wine industry – from how we buy it, to how we taste it, and everything in between.
Despite this uncertainty, Quoin Rock winemaker, Schalk Opperman, has bravely shared some of his predictions for the South African wine industry in 2021.
The Stellenbosch based vintner believes that many of the trends we saw emerge in 2020 will continue into 2021 such as the health and wellness boom and the increase in online wine sales. Environmentally friendly packaging is also on the rise and rosé prosecco is expected to be this year’s trendiest drink.
Health and sustainability
The buzz-word at the moment when it comes to wine is sustainability. From packaging to its transportation and production, consumers are increasingly switched on when it comes to buying into a brand that is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint in a meaningful way.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of caring for our health and we are seeing a rapid growth in low-alcohol and de-alcoholised wines as well as natural, low-sulfite and vegan-suitable wines. The key to success with this new market, it seems, is working out how to tap into the millennial consumer; a generation who are opting to drink less and drink better.
Opperman’s take on the trend? The Quoin Rock winemaker is not convinced that low-sulfur and de-alcoholised wines are worth the hype and maintains that the methods used to make these wines are oftentimes more energy consuming than wines made with normal levels.
The focus at Quoin Rock has always been on producing quality wines sustainably and this exclusive Stellenbosch estate does everything in its power to lower their energy usage through eco-friendly energy-efficient methods such as solar power.
Virtual sipping and shopping
Lockdown has kept us stuck inside for most of 2020 and so it came as no surprise when online shopping boomed. South Africans who had been slow to embrace the move to e-commerce before, were pleasantly surprised by its ease and convenience and wine estates who were quick to respond to the surge in online sales, saw significant growth.
Virtual wine tasting has also become an important tool for wineries and online wine events, webinars, and tastings show no sign of slowing down in 2021. It is expected that this trend will continue well past the time of coronavirus and Quoin Rock will be hosting an Online Masterclass with Schalk Opperman and the renowned Michelin star chef Jan-Hendrik Opperman in June of this year.
Opperman says that online sales helped Quoin Rock immensely during this period and predicts that online channels will continue to be the main driver of wine sales for the year 2021.
The traditional heavy glass bottle has been replaced in recent years, with lighter-weight more environmentally friendly options taking centre stage. From plastic bottles to wine in a box and even wine in a can, creative wine packaging definitely seems to be the trend in 2021, but it is one that Opperman believes won’t survive in the long term.
“At the end of the day, people always go back to what they know and trust,” explains Schalk. But this experienced winemaker doesn’t dismiss the trend entirely and believes the convenience of buying wine in a can does have a place when planning an outdoor event such as a summer picnic- an experience Quoin Rock’s Gâte restaurant is renowned for.
Rosé all day
Trending for the last six years, rosé has been a huge success over the past decade and many trend forecasters are predicting that 2021′s next big drink will be Prosecco rosé.
This light pink bubbly was launched in Italy at the end of November 2020, with the region already showing a steady increase in the sale of pink wines long before then. Combining the prosecco trend with the rosé trend is a sure thing for success, believes Opperman who is also the man behind the 2020 Namysto Rosé, a vibrant and well-balanced wine available to order on the Quoin Rock website.
After reflecting on the latest wine industry trends, Quoin Rock’s winemaker confesses that a desire to keep up with what is trending is not something that he or his team is particularly concerned with. At the end of the day, it is the customer’s desire for quality wine that is most important, says Opperman, and it is Quoin Rock’s unwavering commitment to quality and tradition that ensures excellence year after year for this Stellenbosch Wine Estate.