Situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch University has a long history of engagement with the sciences of the vine and the wine, and is in close association with the South African grape and wine industries. Training in Viticulture and Oenology was already offered in the 1880s, at what was then called; the Stellenbosch Gymnasium. Formal teaching in the Department of Viticulture and Oenology (DVO) of the Faculty of Agriculture was initiated by Professor AI Perold. Over the years, this Department underwent several significant organisational changes, including the separation of Viticulture and Oenology into two departments. The current organisational structure was established in 1995 with the amalgamation of these departments and the addition of the Institute for Wine Biotechnology (IWBT). These initiatives led to the establishment of a new team of academics and researchers, and a new vision of integrated and multidisciplinary research that covers the full research value chain, from the generation of fundamental knowledge to the application of this knowledge. The scope of research and teaching in the traditional wine sciences has been expanded and strengthened through the integration of new tools from the biological-, chemical- and sensory sciences.
The DVO is the only University-based department in South Africa that offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Viticulture and Oenology. The department has at its disposal well-equipped research facilities, including experimental and commercial vineyards, a small-scale teaching experimental cellar and an industry-scale research and training cellar. Research projects are supported by competitive grants awarded to the department by industry or government institutions. The department enjoys national and international recognition, and maintains contact and research collaboration with many national and international universities and research organisations, such as the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia, the universities of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Montpellier in France, Aucland University in New Zealand; Slovenian Agricultural Institute in Slovenia; Fachhochschule Geisenheim University; Corvinus University, Budapest, Hungary; KRF Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology, Eger; Fondatione Edmund Mach in Trento, Italy. Mutual arrangements and agreements entail student and staff exchanges, as well as many collaborative research projects.