An attempt is made to synthesise the lessons from at least four different ways of looking at the South Africa wine industry: economics, climatology, viticulture, and the sociology of work. To this end, the economic performance of South Africa’s wine industry since democratisation in the early 1990s is reviewed, as is the effect of climate change on the industry. This is followed by an assessment of possible strategies for building international competitiveness whilst simultaneously coping with the effects of climate change. Here we argue that, while industry systems should allow the marketing of speciality wines (e.g. from a single vineyard, from a single estate), this is not a viable strategy for most wine producers. Furthermore, climate change will lead to volatility in the characteristics that identify different terroirs. For this reason, industry strategies should rather focus on the benefits of diversity, but with a range of adaptations that will also result in better quality wines. These encompass quality; geographic location; viticultural practices; the style of wines and the renewal of skills. In synthesising this argument, we then consider whether such a strategy could enhance or hinder greater international competitiveness for the industry.