Everywhere we look, we are reminded that our choices are affecting the earth we live on. We have a responsibility to make more sustainable choices every day. Did you know you can make an environmentally-friendly choice by choosing a conservative champion wine? Look out for the ‘Follow The Sugarbird’ Logo to guide your choices and support wine farms that focus on farming sustainably and regeneratively.
You can help the earth be a better place while sipping on your favourite glass of wine! So I urge you to consider not only where the wine is made, but how it is produced – with the environment in mind, by choosing sustainably produced wine.
The fynbos loving Cape Sugarbird and the iconic protea encapsulate the symbiosis of nature. WWF’s Conservative Champions – an exclusive and hard eaned status, proudly use this striking sugarbird and protea logo on their wine bottles to demonstrate their dedication to the conservation of The Cape Floral kingdom’s unique biodiversity – home to over 9500 different plant species, 70% of which occur nowhere else in the world.
Conservation Champion wine farms pursue long-term conservation commitments and spearhead innovations in water and energy efficiency.
They also invite wine lovers; locals and tourists to explore nature at its finest – from fynbos walking trails and cycling tracks to seasonal menus at scenic restaurants and special places to relax.
The South African Conservation Champions are;
Bartinney Wines, Stellenbosch
Bouchard Finlayson, Hermanus
Bowwood Farm, Paarl
Cederberg Wines, Clanwilliam
Cloof Wine Estate, Darling
De Wetshof, Robertson
Eikenhof Wines, Elgin
Elgin Orchards, Grabouw
Gabrielskloof, Bot River
Graham Beck, Robertson
Hamilton Russel Vineyards, Hermanus
Hidden Valley Wines, Stellenbosch
Klein Constantia, Constantia
La Motte, Franschhoek
Lourensford Wines, Somerset West
Merwida Wines, Rawsonville
Neethlingshof Estate, Stellenbosch
Oak Valley Wines, Elgin
Paul Cluver Wines, Grabouw
Robert Stanford Estate, Stanford
Rust en Vrede, Stellenbosch
Schalkenbosch Wines, Tulbagh
Vergelegen Wines, Somerset West
Vondeling and Bowood, Wellington
Waterford Estate, Stellenbosch
Waterkloof Wines, Somerset West
Waverley Hills, Tulbagh
Wedderwill Wines, Somerset West
Wildekrans Wines, Bot River
95% of SA’s wine growing takes place in the Cape winelands. Yet, this vast area under vine is also home to two global biodiversity hotspots – the Succulent Karoo and Cape Floral Kingdom. Both these hotspots are unique habitats found nowhere else in the world!
What is the issue?
In the early 2000s, the wine industry was growing rapidly and the vineyard footprint was expanding into highly-threatened conservation-worthy habitats.
This spurred the start of a unique and powerful partnership between the conservation sector and the wine industry because the wine farm owners are the custodians of the land. They are the ones who can ensure that they farm in harmony with nature and ensure that the natural areas are protected so as to continue providing essential natural services.
With a changing climate and ever-increasing input costs, there is also a need to collaborate beyond farm gates to address shared risks and opportunities such as clearing river catchments of water-thirsty alien vegetation as well as preventing wildfires.
What is WWF doing?
WWF provides advisory support to eligible and committed wine farms as part of a land and water stewardship programme.
How do we do this?
Through a voluntary membership model, WWF works with the environmental leaders in SA’s wine industry, known as the Conservation Champions. These landowners commit to biodiversity-friendly farming practices, conserve their natural areas and continually improve their water and energy efficiencies.
WWF supports these farms in their environmental efforts by co-developing detailed environmental management plans, setting tangible targets and helping them to prioritise actions to address their most pressing envionmental risks.
WWF’s work also supports the existing wine industry environmental certification scheme and this, in turn, is jointly marketed through industry bodies.
In exchange, the Conservation Champions can use the distinctive sugarbird and protea logo on their wine bottles so consumers can make an informed choice to support our environmental wine leaders!
Who do we work with?
As well as working closely with the nearly 40 Conservation Champions, we also engage with conservation partners, government, wine industry bodies, retailers and consumers.
How did it start?
The programme was initiated in 2004 was originally called the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). Over the subsequent decade, the BWI team worked with over 250 landowners and cellars to set up their environmental management plans and put systems in place to meet market requirements through the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) certification scheme.
By 2015, over 90% of the South African wine industry was able to certify their wine as being environmentally friendly through the BWI and IPW partnership. With limited resources, the programme then restructured to focus exclusively on working with and supporting the industry leaders – WWF’s Conservation Champions.
What are the big wins?
- This unique partnership raised the awareness of the natural biodiversity and has catalysed behaviour change towards more sustainable farming practices within the wine growing regions of South Africa.
- Over 90% of SA’s wine industry has embedded environmentally responsible farming practices into their business as represented in Sustainable Wines South Africa’s integrity and sustainability label.
- The SA wine industry received international recognition as leaders in the global wine sector for demonstrating the balance between nature and farming.
- Although experiencing the worst drought in decades, and an ever-changing climate, many Conservation Champion farms that have implemented the sustainable farming practices – and with conservation at their core – have been able to maintain their productivity and their businesses are growing from strength to strength.
- By creating the Conservation Champion logo, consumers can easily recognise and choose to support the environmental leaders with every wine purchase and when choosing to visit farms.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Support our Conservation Champions! Download the WWF champion wine guide app to explore farms and find special offers as well as ecotourism activities.