Skip to main content

Centre of African Studies: Research


The South African Wine Industry

Professor Paul Nugent is writing a history of the South African wine industry in the twentieth century, focusing on the ways in which consumption patterns and innovation were inflected by the politics of race and temperance.

This project builds on previous work in this field, notably ‘Race, Taste and Power: The Cape Wine Industry’, supported by a Leverhulme Fellowship in 2009. Paul was then a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study from 2012-2013, working on the related: ‘Wine, Temperance and South African Connectivity: c. 1900-Present’.

Lieberstein Ad 1976 Afrikaans
Lieberstien Ad Zulu

Where and how does the project take place?

The project combines a history of (stalled) innovations in the industry with an analysis of the role of racialised discourses and practices in shaping wine consumption patterns throughout the twentieth century. Race, Taste and Power focused on the Cape wine industry since 1960, focusing on KWV regulation, challenges to this system by estate producers in the 1980s and the remaking of the industry since the 1990s.

Central themes have included the efforts to define a captive local market through advertising directed at white and Coloured consumers, and the championing of fine wine that led to the uprooting of old varietals and the planting of the noble cultivars. The roles of farmers, judges, critics, regulators and consumers were examine within the matrix of shifting power relations in South Africa. Fieldwork in the Cape included research in winelands, archives and newspaper libraries in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

Western Cape Vineyard