Dedicated to the promotion and advancement of Pinotage, 1991 was a watershed year for Pinotage. Kanonkop's Beyers Truter was named International Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition for his 1989 Pinotage.
That award led to significant international interest in the varietal and a reappraisal of the quality of the wines made from it. Quality producers realised the window of opportunity they had been given.
They wanted to maximise this opportunity, both locally and internationally. But their efforts were in danger of being thwarted by the number of producers still following the 'low price, high volume' route. Too many Pinotage wines lacked typical varietal characteristics.
The Pinotage revival was in danger of being still born. Established producers realised that they had to do something. Pinotage would only cement a place in the quality wine firmament if all Pinotage producers handled the grape as a varietal capable of producing world-class wines. The established producers were prepared to take on a double responsibility.
Firstly, they wanted to share their successes and experience with other Pinotage producers. Secondly, they wanted to develop criteria that would ensure a distinctively-styled South African Pinotage wine. It was important to ensure Pinotage's continued uniqueness in the international wine world.
The mission – South Africa must remain the leader in everything to do with the cultivation and vinification of Pinotage. Producers believed the best instrument to achieve this objective would be a body dedicated to the promotion and advancement of Pinotage. The message went out, and more than 100 people responded by gathering for the inaugural meeting of the Pinotage Association in Paarl on 23 November 1995.
Anybody who has an interest in the production and marketing Pinotage grapes and Pinotage wines can join the association. Most of the winemakers producing Pinotage wines in South Africa are members. Other members include growers of Pinotage grapes, as well as researchers, viticultural consultants and marketers of Pinotage.