The KWV board was severely criticised and suffered a number of probing, negative questions by a small, but vocal group of producer-shareholders at its AGM in Paarl yesterday.

One farmer claimed that since KWV had become a company in 1997 it had failed its members.

Among the issues raised were the fact that individual producers and former co-operatives were not given sufficient information regarding production costs and the going rate for wine and thus could not negotiate properly when confronted by wine buyers for large concerns.

Particular criticism was meted out to VinPro, a KWV subsidiary responsible for extension services and liaison between the wine farmer, KWV, industry bodies and the department of agriculture.

An irate farmer said that as a result of not knowing the going rate wine was sometimes sold at below production prices, saying they took certain prices rather than face the fear of it dropping even further later in the year.

The agreement KWV reached with the ANC government also came under the spotlight.

They felt that the while some estate owners were still able to make a success of their wine ventures, many an average farmer had his back to the wall.