The establishment of this highly specialized Consulting Group has been triggered by a world wide rapidly growing demand for know-how on tropical grape growing and hot climate wine making. Commercial grape cultivation under tropical conditions, between 23,27° North ("Tropic of Cancer") and 23,27° South ("Tropic of Capricorn"), is practised on over 150,000ha in some 21 countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. That is an increase of 175% during the last 12 years from originally 55,000ha in 1996. The most rapid expansion can be noted in tropical Asian countries like India, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, where new vineyards for table grape and wine production are established every day.
TVC founder Wolfgang W. Schaefer (63), M. Sc. Viticulture and Oenology (Geisenheim/Germany), looks back on 35 years of experience in all tropical grape growing countries of Asia like India, Mynmar, Thailand and Vietnam as well as Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia), Angola, Brazil (north-east), Burundi, Cuba, Curacao Island, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Peru, Tanzania, Taiwan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
His first contact to Tropical Viticulture dates back to 1978 when he studied the “floating vineyards” of Thailand, the table grape areas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (India) as well as viticulture in Taiwan. He then worked as the head of a Viticultural and Oenological Research and Training Centre at Dodoma, Tanzania (East Africa), where he set up 40ha of tropical experimental vineyards with over 240 different wine, table grape and rootstock cultivars. The vineyards were closely monitored over a period of 8 years and all findings were documented in close co-operation with the Geisenheim Institute for Grape Breeding.
From 1993 – 2000, Thailand was again on the agenda when the Boonrawd Brewery Co. commissioned the planning and implementation of Khao Yai Estate Winery, including all vineyards. From 1997 onwards, this task was completed together with Hans-Peter Hoehnen, who became a partner at TVC. Since then, many assignments in tropical countries all over the world, from short-term studies to long-term consultations, have followed. For details of all freelance activities, please refer to the Reference List.
Partner Hans-Peter Hoehnen (51), M. Sc. Viticulture and Oenology (Geisenheim/Germany) started his professional career at Cape Mentelle Winery, Margret River, Western Australia and Cloudy Bay Winery, Blenhem, Hawke`s Bay, New Zealand. By now he has accumulated 12 years of tropical viticultural experience. After jointly planning and setting up Khao Yai Estate Winery, he became the Technical Manager and Wine Maker living with his family in Thailand from 1997 - 2000. Gran Monte vineyards at Khao Yai and Siam Winery`s Huan Hin Hills and Tab Kwan Estate have been established respectively improved under his supervision thereafter until today.
The key knowledge in tropical viticulture is which rootstock variety and grape cultivar can perform best under the given soil and short-day conditions of the tropics location. When it comes to the choice of location for new vineyards for wine production, the third partner and “terroir” expert Prof. Dr. Peter van Straaten (65) comes into play. He is the author of the well known book “The use of rocks for crops” and professor for agro-geology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and has spent most of his life on field trips and as a guest professor lecturing in tropical countries all over the world.
Friedrichsdorf, Germany June 2014