Research, Development and Innovation (RDI)

The Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) department aims to commission and fund cutting-edge academic research and development related to grape growing and winemaking that will generate new knowledge and innovative ideas, products and practices to benefit the primary and secondary production sectors. Research projects focus on vineyard management, pest and disease control, grape and wine quality improvement, climate change adaptation, water efficiency, and other sustainable production practices. We collaborate closely with various industry stakeholders, including wine producers, winemakers, researchers, and academic institutions. Our role is to facilitate sustainable grape and wine production that will deliver quality wines that can be marketed and sold to consumers at a profit. This aim is achieved through a set of strategic ongoing objectives:

  • Flagship programmes
  • Generation of industry and academic-relevant scientific knowledge
  • Innovation and research business ventures
  • South African wine blockchain ecosystem development
  • Development of a holistic sustainability strategy
  • Knowledge transfer and industry engagement
  • International partnerships

The Research, Development and Innovation department was previously an independent South African wine industry body known as the Wine Industry Network of Expertise and Technology (trading as Winetech) that was originally conceptualised in 1996 and formally registered as a non-profit association in 1998. In 2018, it was officially registered as a non-profit company. On 1 July 2023, it became part of South Africa Wine.

Flagship Programmes

Flagship Programmes are large-scale, strategically focused, and highly ambitious research initiatives. They have been designed to tackle complex and significant challenges facing the South African wine industry. Within each programme, all the individual projects tie into each other to provide more comprehensive outcomes. The programmes are long-term endeavours that receive substantial financial support. The programmes address climate change, water efficiency, plant breeding and wine authenticity. These projects explore new and groundbreaking ideas, methodologies and technologies, contributing to the industry’s scientific progress and technological advancement.

Research themes and industry committees

South Africa Wine RDI operates on a committee system comprising industry representatives. These committees carefully evaluate each research proposal received to ensure the project’s industry relevance. These committees convene three times a year to discuss concept proposals, new project applications, progress reports of running projects, and final reports of completed projects.
Viticulture main research themes
  • Grapevine optimum performance
  • Health of Vitis
  • Soil sustainability for wine grapes
Viticulture specialist committees
  • Grapevine Improvement
  • Terroir
  • Soil and water
  • Cultivation
  • Grapevine protection – Fungi and bacteria
  • Grapevine protection – Insects and pests
Oenology main research themes
  • Process improvement
  • Quality improvement
  • Method development
Oenology specialist committees
  • Process improvement
  • Quality improvement
INNOVATION specialist committee
  • Technology transfer

Research booklet

The annual research booklet contains summaries of the projects that concluded the previous year and the running projects for the year in which it appears. The projects are listed according to the specialist committee they fall under. The short summaries contain the project leader’s name and affiliation.

The book aims to create awareness of industry-funded research amongst all industry role players.