For the first time, a major international wine company has joined forces with a South African producer to establish a new wine brand from the Cape region that will be distributed globally.
Australia's BRL Hardy and South Africa's Stellenbosch Vineyards have announced a joint venture to develop "typically Cape-style" wines under a brand name still to be decided. The partners plan to launch the new wines in September, starting with the 2002 vintage.
BRL Hardy, one of the largest wine companies in Australia, also has wide distribution outside the country: in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, continental Europe and North America, where it co-owns California's Blackstone Winery through a joint venture with American wine giant Constellation Brands. Among Hardy's other brands are Banrock Station, Barossa Valley Estate, Chateau Reynella, Hardys and Leasingham from Australia; Nobilo from New Zealand; and Domaine de la Baume from France.
Stellenbosch Vineyards, a privately owned South African producer, is one of the country's largest wineries, with an annual production of around 850,000 cases of South African wines that are sold in both export and local markets. The company sources grapes from nearly 5,000 acres of vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa's premium wine region.
The joint venture arrangement will create a new branded wine from Stellenbosch Vineyards, which will be marketed through BRL Hardy's international sales and marketing network. The initial launch will be in Europe, with an estimated 100,000 cases. Stellenbosch Vineyards' chief winemaker, Chris Kelly, will produce the wine, which is already being blended and tested.
Stephen Millar, managing director of BRL Hardy Ltd, said that the partners aim to create a quality, value-priced South African brand for the global market. Targeting the European market initially, they hope to establish "a strong start-up position to tackle the growing European interest in South African wine," he said.
The new alliance provides a unique opportunity for Stellenbosch Vineyards and for South African wine as a whole, according to Hermann Böhmer, managing director of Stellenbosch. "It provides us with the leverage to gain distribution of wines in Europe and beyond," he said. "As the first venture of its kind by a South African wine company, the potential is huge."
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