Winemaker Schalk Opperman shares predictions for wine trends in 2021

If there is one thing that we can predict about the year 2021, it’s that it is going to be another wholly unpredictable year! From alcohol bans to beach closures, we’re never quite sure 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, how we taste it, and even where we drink it.

Despite all this uncertainty, Quoin Rock winemaker, Schalk Opperman, has bravely shared some of his predictions for South African wine industry trends in 2021. Opperman believes that many of the trends we saw emerge in 2020 will evolve into 2021 such as the health and sustainability boom and the increase of online wine sales. New, alternative styles of packaging are also on the rise and rosé prosecco is expected to be this year’s trendiest drink.

The conscious consumer

Sustainability is the buzz-word at the moment when it comes to wine. From packaging to transportation and most importantly, its production, consumers are increasingly switched on when it comes to buying into a brand that is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint.

On top of this focus on sustainability, the pandemic has also highlighted the importance of caring for our health. 2021 wine trends are seeing a rapid growth in low-alcohol and de-alcoholised wines and natural, low-sulfite and vegan-suitable wines are also on the rise. It seems that the key to success with this new market is working out how to tap into the millennial consumer; a group who are opting to drink less and drink better.

Opperman’s take on the trend? The Quoin Rock winemaker has not drunk the kool-aid when it comes to low-sulfur and de-alcoholised wines and maintains that the methods used to make these wines are oftentimes more energy consuming than wines with normal levels. Quoin Rock’s focus has always been on producing quality wines sustainably and this exclusive Stellenbosch estate does everything in its power to lower their energy usage through solar power and other eco-friendly energy-efficient methods.

Virtual shopping and sipping

With lockdown keeping us stuck inside for most of 2020, it came as no surprise that online shopping boomed. Many South Africans that had been slow to embrace e-commerce before, were pleasantly surprised by its ease and convenience and wine farms who were quick to upgrade their web and direct-to-consumer channel, saw significant growth.

Virtual wine tasting also became an important tool for wineries that had previously relied on traditional tastings as a way to expose potential consumers to new wines. Online wine events, webinars, and tastings show no sign of slowing down in 2021, and it is expected that this trend will continue well past the time of coronavirus.

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.

Quoin Rock will also be hosting an Online Masterclass with Schalk Opperman and the renowned Michelin star chef Jan-Hendrik Opperman in June of this year.

New ways to package

Wine packaging has undergone a makeover in recent years with the traditional heavy glass bottle being replaced with lighter-weight more environmentally friendly options. From plastic bottles to box wine and even wine in a can, creative wine packaging is definitely a 2021 wine trend, 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” Schalk explains. But this experienced winemaker doesn’t dismiss the trend entirely and believes the convenience of alternative packaging 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

Rosé has been trending for the last six years and given the success of the light pink wine over the past decade, many are predicting that 2021′s next big drink will be Prosecco rosé.

At the end of November 2020, the approved category launched in Italy, a region that is already showing a steady increase in the sale of pink wines, and combining the prosecco trend with the rosé trend is a sure thing for success, believes Opperman.

Opperman is also the man behind the 2020 Namysto Rosé, a vibrant and well-balanced wine with a beautiful fleshiness and texture that can be enjoyed on its own or with a seafood dish.

After reflecting on the latest wine industry trends, Opperman 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 consumer’s desire for quality wine that is most important and it is Quoin Rock’s unwavering commitment to quality and tradition that ensures excellence year after year for the Stellenbosch Wine Estate.