INTERVIEW Please describe the relationship with Nedbank, in terms of your business and the wine industry.
Nedbank does a lot to support the wine industry; in particular, they sponsor the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction. In addition to well-known estates, individuals are also able to market their topclass wines through the event. They are also involved in the sponsorship of the Nedbank Vinpro Information Day held annually. Nedbank is also our Business Bank. What prompted you to start a community project focusing on alcohol abuse among women and youth pregnancy, and what impact has the project had?
What is your view of the current state of the wine industry in South Africa and the outlook for the next five-to-10 years?
Some South African wines are doing very well. I could mention Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, local sales of which have grown by 73% and 60% respectively over the past five years. I foresee that it will continue to go well for the wine industry in the short-to-medium term but unfortunately the outlook is not as positive for the grape farmers. The price of grapes has not risen as much as the price of the value-added product – wine in the bottle.
Some years ago, I started the FAITH Fund (Foetal Alcohol-Syndrome and Interrelated Treatment Help Fund) and we have been working at communicating the negative effects of drinking during pregnancy ever since. It is widely known that the Western Cape has a serious problem when it comes to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). We have what we call the “Klop-klop” project, where we literally send people door-to-door to speak to farm workers, particularly pregnant women, about the dangers of drinking while pregnant. We follow up by visiting pregnant women each month until they deliver and we provide food and necessities to assist them. We also visit schools and clinics as far afield as Beaufort West and Graaff-Reinet. I do this because I believe that every child needs a future and FAS robs children of a future they can look forward to.
How is the drought likely to impact the wine industry?
Typically during periods of dry weather you have a smaller crop but sometimes a superior crop, so the effects “cancel each other out”. Longer term, however, continuing drought would significantly affect volumes, which would affect wine sales.
WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2017