The learners of Boland Agricultural High School will be gaining first-hand experience in wine grape cultivation after Vinpro’s Gen-Z Vineyard Project establishes 40 different wine grape cultivars on the school’s premises. Boland Agricultural High School joined hands with the Gen-Z team last year to start planning and coordinating this new project, after the Junior Agricultural Association expressed a need to plant a demo vineyard.
“The project at Boland Agricultural High School fits in perfectly with the objectives of the Gen-Z Vineyard Project. We are proud to be involved and are excited to see how this project will unlock value for learners and producers in the area,” says Francois Viljoen, manager of the wine industry organisation Vinpro’s Gen-Z Vineyard Project.
Gen-Z aims to connect wine producers, viticulturists, suppliers and researchers with the latest practices, technology and tools in the vineyard by establishing small-scale demo sites across South Africa’s wine grape growing areas.
Grape variety, terroir and vineyard practices
A total of 21 red and 19 white wine grape cultivars were planted at Boland Agricultural High School, with the aim of seeing how these cultivars would perform in the Agter-Paarl region’s terroir. The majority of the 2 861 wine grapevines that were planted consist of traditional grape varieties, together with a number of newer grape varieties such as Agiorgitiko, Arinarnoa, Lledoner Pelut, Assyrtiko and Piquepoul Blanc. At the same time, six different trellis systems, as well as a number of different pruning techniques are being demonstrated.
“This is the first school where we have established such a demo vineyard, in order to give learners exposure at an early stage, not only to viticulture in general, but to the different nuances in the field in terms of grape variety, terroir and vineyard practices,” says Viljoen. Producers, viticulturists and other stakeholders in the area will also be able to view the vineyards during demonstration sessions.
“The launch of the vineyard project is a big milestone for us, which we believe will take the learning experience for our scholars to a new level,” says Kobus Hartman, principal of Boland Agricultural High School.