Over the years some of the most famous personalities in the wine world have graced Nederburg’s podium in this capacity and taken back with them memories not only of the Cape’s finest wines, but of what is said to be the most efficiently organised wine auction anywhere.
TWO WINE INDUSTRIES
Keynote Address: Nederburg 16th September 2017
In June 2005 the proprietors of the estates which were rated and ranked in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its publication. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the party, which was hosted at Chateau d’Yquem. This was not a modest gathering: the Bordeaux Cru Classe estates were in the midst of a seemingly endless boom, with a string of decent vintages going back a decade, and nature delivering wines of legend just when they were required for the millennium. Primeur prices for these vinous treasures – which, by the way, represent only a tiny fraction of the region’s production – had increased roughly five fold since the mid 1990s. For much the same effort, and with assets which had long been amortised, revenues were sky-rocketing as a result of what seemed an insatiable international demand. The Global Financial Crisis lay hidden in the mists of an unimagined future several years ahead.
Four Three Star Michelin chefs had set up their restaurants at d’Yquem, so that instead of banquet fare, usually not so bad when a decent French traiteur gets called in, the very best of French fine dining would be available for the guests. As we were standing around at twilight, sipping on a full array of wines from the 1855 estates, and making the kind of small talk which precedes a dinner whose joys were easy to anticipate, one of my hosts – the proprietor of a venerable and much celebrated property – said, slightly apologetically “you must excuse these slightly muted celebrations, but down there (this with a airy wave from the heights of the d’Yquem Plateau to the lower lying ground which is home to the more generic Bordeaux vineyards), down there, people are starving.”
He explained that although we were standing on the high ground of Sauternes, some very ordinary Bordeaux appellations were located nearby. The very survival of many of these small growers had become increasingly precarious as the average price paid for their wine remained much the same as it had been ten years previously, whereas their input cost inflation was running at 2 – 3% annually. “They are under-recovering on their running costs, and because they are small business proprietors, they cannot really claim on the welfare state: they really are starving,” he said. “We are really not in the same wine business, though we farm in much the same place. The world sees the opulence of the 1855 estates, but it is wealth in the midst of poverty.”
This concept of two wine industries in the same country is the subject of my keynote address today. But it is not about the 60% plus of all South African producers whose businesses are marginal or losing money that I wish to focus this talk. VinPro has produced enough hard research on the subject that none of us can plead ignorance of the true economics of wine production. We South Africans are – or should be – acutely aware of the high Gini coefficient which is an embarrassing economic truth of our post political apartheid society. Accordingly, I want to talk about the parts of the “other” wine industry that we know vaguely about and choose to ignore: the other consumers, living in communities where hope for a better life has long ago faded into the gloom of despair, and where alcohol – cheap wine, and cheaper so-called ales – as well as tik and nyaope are used to block out the vista of desperation extending endlessly into the future. So part of what I have labelled our two wine industries is in fact two types of consumers: if we don’t acknowledge them, and act to do something about the conditions which drive them deeper into the pit of desolation, we will not be in a position to deal with the prohibitionism which colours so much of the national government’s rhetoric about alcohol. For reasons of political convenience, or perhaps out of ignorance, our politicians see alcohol as a cause of socially dysfunctional communities, rather than as a consequence of them.
Let us be clear about this: when it comes to lobbying the government, we – the wine industry – are happy to remind them that we are one of the top drivers of the Western Cape economy. We trot out numbers which suggest that 280000 jobs are directly or indirectly the result of grape-farming, wine making, packaging, transport – the trade in alcohol. We show that the industry adds 1.2 % to GDP and pays in excess of R5bn to the fiscus – which is more than the combined net income of the producers. In addition there is the contribution the mere presence of the wine industry makes towards tourism, not only the annual descent of Gauteng on the Western Cape, but, perhaps more importantly, the hard currency contribution of Northern Hemisphere visitors – the so-called swallows and the once-in-a-lifetime adventurers. When we seek to impress on an otherwise disinterested or incompetent national government the vital role played by the wine industry, we endeavour to show the size of our contribution – our indispensability, if you like. Now we must assume responsibility equal to our claims, and play our part in the upliftment of communities whose despair, despondence and general sense of helplessness makes them easy prey to drug pushers, ale-vendors, the merchants of oblivion for those whose everyday lives demand an urgent avenue of escape.
How, you may ask, are we to do this, we who are already battling to stay viable as grape prices remain resolutely low, and the on-shelf price of packaged wine leaves no margin for the value chain. Here we can turn for inspiration to someone whose credentials in terms of commitment to this country are beyond dispute. Rosa Kruger is a viticulturist, and one of the key drivers behind the Old Vine Project, which has identified the blocks of old vines whose potential to yield world class wines has been widely acknowledged as a game-changer for the ultra-premium segment of the wine industry. Rosa is – almost singlehandedly and against the inertia of some of the key institutions in the industry – trying (so far unsuccessfully) to get training programmes for vineyard workers included in the certification criteria for the Integrated Production of Wine regulations. In her own words:
“I work in the field. I see the needs every day. I honestly think the general farm worker needs and wants to develop his skills as a vineyard worker. I have done it myself in a very very small scale and I have seen the wonderful results.
Empowerment starts with education. Social upliftment starts with education. I really believe that.
I have lost too many vineyard workers to Tik, TB and violence, to not notice the absolute desperation. I think by education we can start the long and cumbersome process of upliftment.”
Vineyard work for many who spend long hours in the sometimes baking sun – we should not kid ourselves that we practise much by way of cool climate viticulture in South Africa – is not a choice: in many of the inland areas, it is the only option other than unemployment and starvation. If we wish to transform it from a burden borne with resentment to a career of choice, it must come with skills development and the prospect of skilled labour rates and job satisfaction. Chris Mullineux, who together with his wife and partner Andrea has turned their Mullineux & Leeu operation into what is probably the smartest and most successful small- to mid-size wine business which has developed anywhere in the world in the past decade, trained as an accountant – but having qualified, instead he chose to spend his days walking between rows of vines, watching, suckering, pruning, nurturing. Because he knows what he is doing, and because he understands the science of the vine and the art of fine wine, he loves performing exactly the same work which those who are forced into agricultural employment resent and despise. If we don’t empower the labour upon whom our industry depends – and empower them with knowledge, and passion and a sense of their place in the greater machine out of which fine wine emerges, we will always have these two halves of the industry separated by an unbridgeable chasm.
Finally, I want to talk about another two wine industries, another two halves which function in a competitive yet symbiotic relationship, the world of commercial or, as some would have it, industrial wine, and the world of fine, some might call it craft wine, others, vin de terroir – wine made to express origin more than the hand of the winemaker. It’s become fashionable to see these two wine industries as hermetically sealed off from each other, fighting each other for the same share of the consumer Rand. The “terroirists” appear to have acquired a position of superiority, as if the expression of origin (assuming this is always discernible) necessarily trumps the art of “made” wine. If we are going to fight amongst ourselves, to factionalise ourselves rather than stand united, we will continue to be easy prey for other – real – competitors chasing the disposable income of our customers.
These two wine industries are really one and the same, and although wines with a claim to origin tend to fetch higher prices, the success of Australia’s Penfolds Grange and Dom Perignon – for example – shows that there is a demand for ultra-premium wines which make no claims about terroir. We need to understand that for wine – as a category – to grow, it must have an affordable entry point which brings new consumers into its wonderful and sometimes overly mysterious world. But it also needs to be able to maintain the interest of those who have made the first leap of faith. Entry level wine must be consistent and it must be affordable – and it must also be susceptible to stylistic modification, because at this point fashion is a key element in creating the essential interest which makes category change possible. The fruit for these wines must be farmed on an industrial scale, and the wines made using all the legal technology available to optimise the consumer experience. There is no future for the craft wine industry if the commercial or industrial side of the business doesn’t do its job properly. However, once consumers discover the joy of wine, the opportunity presented by the infinite nuance of place and craft will create an endless playground: there will be no way out of the maze because there will be no desire to leave.
Today’s auction is a celebration of the extraordinary variety which nature, through the diversity of the countless growing sites, and man, through the skill and knowledge of the winemaker, has brought to Cape wine. There are wines on sale today made from fruit harvested from vineyards planted before the Second World War; wines made by craftsmen who have been dead for many decades; wines produced by the latest generation of wine-savvy artisans, youngsters who were born years after the first Nederburg Auction was held on this site a mere 42 years ago. Every one of these bottles was made with the potential to evolve, to become what it is now, and what it may yet become in the years which lie ahead. They would not be here if we didn’t have the other half of the wine industry, the affordable everyday beverages that bring consumers to the world of wine, and which provide the funding not only for events of this kind, but for the craftsmen whose investment in skill, time and money would not have been possible if there wasn’t a cash cow somewhere in the background.
If the wine industry we love is to survive and to thrive we all of us need to be conscious of its fracture points and to strive to bridge the gaps that have appeared in its edifice. We cannot ignore the plight of the communities living in our midst whose circumstances turn them into indentured labourers: by giving them the knowledge to become more active players in the value chain we will give them the sense of purpose they will need if they are to escape the evils of addiction, and they in turn will give us the skills we need to raise the overall quality of what we produce. We cannot ignore the polarisation around production sites: we need to ensure that growers in appellations with the potential to yield wines which express their origin are suitably remunerated, and that those in places where high volumes of healthy fruit can be obtained have the skills and opportunities to make the most of their crop. Finally we need a culture of mutual respect across the great and artificial divide which appears to separate fine wine from the good everyday drink which lies at the heart of every wine industry. We have enough enemies beyond the city walls that we do not need to create fake rivalries within. It is a great privilege to have access to fine wine: let us not forget that while we choose to see this as a reward for our own successes in the material world, it comes with obligations: to respect those out of whose labour, insight and intellect the quality emerged, to appreciate their achievement, and, by our actions, to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the enterprise of fine wine in South Africa.
16th September 2017
Named by Decanter magazine back in 1997 as one of the 50 people who would be influencing the way people would drink in the 21st century, British wine expert and highly acclaimed writer Robert Joseph delivered the keynote address at the Nederburg Auction on Saturday 12 September.
Known as the ‘Wine Thinker’, Robert launched Wine International magazine in 1983 and
set up the International Wine Challenge, became wine writer for the Sunday Telegraph, and wrote his first book, The Wine Lists. He is currently editor-at-large of Meininger’s Wine Business Intl and his latest book is the interactive Wine Marketing Toolkit.
Robert Joseph is Chairman of the Wine Institute of Asia and has chaired over 50 wine competitions in places including London, Sydney, South Africa, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Vietnam, Poland and India.
Robert Joseph regularly appears on television and radio in the UK and overseas, including recent BBC programmes Chateau Chunder and This World. He was keynote speaker at the Australian Wine Industry 2000 Global Marketing Conference and the first Viognier and Shiraz Symposiums, and has addressed industry meetings in places ranging from France, South Africa and California to China, Russia and Georgia. He is also a regular invited lecturer at the Wines & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET) Business & Commercial Knowledge course.
Commercially, Joseph is also one of the trio behind Hugh Kevin & Robert Wines whose award-winning Le Grand Noir and Greener Planet wines now sell over 1.8m bottles per year in 18 countries. He is also a partner in Winestars World and innovative research and marketing consultancy DoILikeIt?, where he has helped to create innovative initiatives driven by new uses of social media.
Winemaker and researcher, Peter Godden graduated with a degree in winemaking from Roseworthy College (the University of Adelaide) in 1991, and following five years of winemaking in Australia he gained winemaking experience in Sauternes, Tuscany and Barolo.
Peter has held a number of roles in his 17 years at the Australian Wine Research Institute, and lead research projects into wine bottle closures and Brettanomyces, which both resulted in extensive practice change in the Australian wine industry and beyond.
In addition he has experience in vineyard establishment and management, particularly with his own small-scale wine business based in the Adelaide Hills specialising in Nebbiolo, and he has held a number of industry roles including Vice President of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology, membership of planning committees for Australian Wine Industry technical Conferences, and has chaired judging panels at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show and a number of regional wine shows.
It was a chance pairing of California chardonnay with lobster and potatoes that set top wine blogger and 2013 Nederburg Auction keynote speaker Joe Roberts on his life-long pursuit of all things wine.
Roberts, one of the most influential and popular wine bloggers in the US and founder of the award-winning 1WineDude.com, will be focusing on how South African wine producers can best market SA wines to young US consumers during his address at the Auction on 7 September.
He rose to fame as a wine writer to a niched, “intermediate”, wine-loving audience since his immersion in the world of wine – an epiphanous moment during which he unwittingly and perfectly matched an inexpensive chardonnay with the seafood meal his future wife Kelly was preparing.
“The light-bulbs went off in my head, and I was totally hooked. From that moment, I started devouring everything I could find on the subject of wine. I’m convinced that experience is what started me on the path of wine geekdom.”
Since his immersion in the wine world, Roberts has travelled the world specifically to cover wine, including South America, the US, Australia, France, Germany, Portugal and Greece. His writing focuses largely on information for what he calls “intermediate wine lovers” – consumers who have gone through the introductory elements of wine but who cannot find any resources for wine lovers at that level of knowledge.
“They’ve not spent nights reading the World Atlas of Wine or taking certification exams. They’re past the ‘101’ stage, but haven’t jumped off the deep end yet, either. There are quite literally almost zero resources available for consumers at that level, in my experience. Either you’re reading Wine For Dummies, encyclopedic tomes that weigh several pounds, or finding proprietary forums on-line where people can be helpful but also can be acrimonious.”
Such was the dearth of knowledge at this level that his blog rapidly became one of the most influential in the US and catapulted Roberts to fame. In 2012, he was named IntoWine.com’s 14th most influential person in the U.S. wine business.
Hence the subject of his Auction presentation, which will deal with the impact of the US consumer economy on wine sales and how South African wine producers can best market SA wines to young, internet-savvy US consumers by taking advantage of how these consumers find and purchase wine. His presentation is entitled Hustling Wine in the land of Big Hat, No Cattle.
“We have to remember that as we trend younger, people consume wine information differently, and so at the point of sale, if there is no tastemaker available (a sommelier or store clerk), people will search the web.”
He says generally consumers will read Cellartracker.com reviews and influential blogs rather than, for instance, a Wine Spectator review behind a paywall. “That act will influence individual buying decisions. Think about how we shop on Amazon.com with respect to the ratings and reviews submitted by those who have purchased the item already.”
Roberts writes a wine column for Playboy.com, is a wine expert and contributor to Answers.com, and has contributed to The Guardian in the UK, and to Wine Business Monthly and the Sommelier Journal in the US. He has spoken on wine and social media as panel member at numerous international conferences and is widely regarded as an expert on the topics of wine and the influence of social media on the wine world, and on the marketing of wine to the newest generation of wines consumers. 1WineDude.com currently sees several thousand subscribers and visitors each month, and has served millions of page views since its inception.
Guests at this year’s prestigious Nederburg Auction won’t want to miss the keynote address by best-selling US author and wine expert Mike Veseth on Saturday 29 September at Nederburg in Paarl.
With the state of the global economy crisis posing many challenges to the wine world and the South African wine industry in particular, this acclaimed US economics professor and “wine economist” will bring his considerable expertise to the speaker platform, tailoring his keynote address around the subject of how South Africa can win the Wine Wars. This aptly follows the fresh insight presented by last year’s speaker, David White, into the changing wine landscape and the future implications for the industry and consumers.
He will discuss the market trends that are redrawing the world wine map and the terroirists (those focused on a wine’s terroir or place of origin) who resist them. Veseth believes that wine businesses are at a critical crossroads, shaped by the powerful forces of globalisation, corporate branding and the exploration of new markets.
As a professor in international political economy at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, Veseth is regarded as an authority on the political economy of globalisation and the global wine market, applying his sharp and astute mind to analyse and understand the complex dynamics of the international wine world.
Nederburg Auction Business Manager Dalene Steyn says: “While believing in preserving the essence and the soul of wine, Mike is also well-versed on breaking into new markets in China, Australia, France and the US. With this combination of a love for wine along with extensive business and economic acumen, we believe he will inspire and motivate wine lovers in South Africa – just like he has done elsewhere in the world.”
This editor of The Wine Economist blog and author of more than a dozen books has won critical praise for his recent book “Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck and the Revenge of the Terroirists (2011)”, which draws remarkable conclusions on the market forces that drive the wine industry. The book has won several awards and prizes, including being selected as Best American Wine History Book 2011 by Gourmand International and a Wine Book of the Year by JancisRobinson.com.
“Terroirist” (ter-war-ist) noun: “A person, usually a member of a group, who is fanatical about wine, especially when it has a sense of place”.This is the description you’ll find on Terroirist.com, the daily wine blog founded last year by US-based wine writer David White, who has been announced as the guest speaker at the 37th Nederburg Auction of fine, rare wines on Saturday 17th September.
Based in Washington DC, this ‘Terroirist’ talks to 10 000 readers a month through his award-winning website, which was recently named “Best New Wine Blog” at the annual Wine Blog Awards, presented at the 2011 North American Wine Bloggers Conference in July.
Artfully straddling the divide between traditional and digital media, David is well poised to comment on the myriad challenges facing the wine industry, including the changing media landscape, the democratisation of wine criticism and what it is that new generation consumers want.
Says David: “Whether it’s new markets, cutting-edge technology or changing consumer preferences, the wine industry is being forced to adapt at lightning speed. It’s an exciting time, but those who want to succeed must recognize – and embrace – how the market is changing.”
Nederburg Auction business manager, Dalene Steyn, concurs: “Given that the look and feel of the auction itself have changed to offer a platform that is both progressive and relevant, we’re excited to have someone like David offer a fresh insight into the changing wine landscape and the future implications for both the industry and consumers.”
Note to the editor:
Since its launch on November 9, 2010, Terroirist has been mentioned by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Reason Magazine, and many other highly regarded publications. The blog has also been highlighted by a number of leading wine writers. David and his team of eight fellow ‘Terroirists’ provide daily updates about anything and everything relating to wine.
David White, who has his Level 3 (Advanced, with Merit) certificate in wine and spirits from the London-based Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has authored several wine pieces that have featured in leading publications, including The World of Fine Wine, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Reuters.
He is a member of the Society of Wine Educators and is also a founding board member of the American Wine Consumer Coalition. Recently, he was awarded a fellowship to the annual Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley.
For further information visit www.terroirist.com
Two top female directors of the Swedish retail liquor monopoly Systembolaget AB will share the guest speaker platform at the 36th Nederburg Auction of rare Cape wines on Saturday, 4 September. Sweden is currently South Africa’s third biggest export destination for wines, accounting for 9.93% of total sales volumes, which grew by 14.9% in the 12-month period between May 2009 and 2010.Swedes purchase more South African wine than that from any other country worldwide. Marie Nygren, Vice President and Director of Purchases and Supply Chain Management and Sara Norell, Head of Purchasing in the Supply Chain Management division, will jointly represent the Swedish alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget AB at this year’s event. The monopoly started in the mid-1800s and is the only retail channel through which alcohol is sold in Sweden. Established to minimise alcohol-related problems by controlling the sale of liquor it currently has 412 stores, approximately 4 700 employees and an annual turnover of 23 billion Swedish Krona (SEK), an equivalent of just under R22.4 billion.
Both women have been with the company for three years. Prior to joining the Systembolaget in 2007, Marie was CEO of Adara AB, a fully owned subsidiary to Apoteket, the former Swedish Pharmacy Monopoly. Sara has a background in import and supply and was previously Director for Arvid Nordquist Wine and Spirit Merchants, a company she was with for 11 years. Her current responsibilities include category management, purchasing and product selection, and quality control, including sensoric as well as chemical analyses.
Marie and Sara will provide further insight into the Systembolaget and its mission, which includes a strong focus on corporate social responsibility, and future trends. They will also offer a perspective on South Africa in the Swedish market, focusing on the wine category and its growth, including the success of South African wines.
The keynote speaker at the 35th Auction of Rare Cape Wines is Mr Tshediso Matona, Director-General of the Department of Trade and Industry. A member of the dti for ten years, Mr Matona was appointed to the position of Director-General in July 2006 and has been instrumental in implementing its vision of a South Africa that has a vibrant economy characterised by growth and equity, built on the full potential of all citizens.
He has published a number of papers, and contributed to prestigious publications in his field. Mr Matona is also a member of a number of boards and professional organisations, including the Trade Law Center (Tralac) Advisory Board; World Health Organisation Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health; Harvard University Trade Group, JK Kennedy School of Government, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) Advisory Board; National Export Advisory Board, South Africa; and, he was a trustee of the South African Students Education Trust during 1990 to 1993.
Mr Matona is currently the director of the Trade and Industrial Policy Secretariat (TIPS), an independent, non-profit economic research institution that aims to be a source of independent economic policy and research leadership to government and civil society in South Africa and the region.
Dr Monika Christmann
The keynote speaker at the 34th Auction of Rare Cape Wines brings an international perspective on oenology and wine technology to one of Cape Town’s premier wine events. Dr Monika Christmann, professor and head of the department of oenology and wine technology at Geisenheim Research Centre in Germany, will offer her insights on how consumer demands will shape the future of wine, particularly in the current economic climate.
Dr Christmann, who worked for the esteemed Simi Winery in Healdsburg, California, where she was a member of the winemaking team and laboratory director in the early 1990s, is currently president of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine’s (OIV’s) expert wine technology group. The OIV is the internationally recognised inter-governmental body that addresses technical, scientific, economic and legal issues pertaining to wine all over the world. It also sets conditions for producing and marketing vine and wine products, and helps ensure that the interests of consumers are taken into account.
In addition, she serves on the German Federal Agricultural Ministry’s wine research committee and is a director of a national industry forum that focuses on wine and health, for which she is currently researching the impact of wine on diet.
Having visited South Africa several times Dr Christmann is tremendously excited to be addressing the Nederburg Auction, which she considers one of the world’s foremost wine auctions. She says; “Over the last ten years I have noted the emergence of a discernibly South African wine style, and am particularly impressed by the country’s Chardonnays and red wines”. As a consumer in Germany, she is also happy to see South African wines becoming more readily available and believes the awareness of the Cape as a travel destination is helping the country to build its wine profile.
Dr Christmann is currently engaged in a range of key studies and think tanks on issues facing the international wine industry, from the impact of climate change to environmental and social sustainability, traceability, growing international competition in the international wine market, changing technology and the need to cater to the growing health awareness of consumers.
Auction Manager Christine Joubert says; “Dr Christmann’s immersion in global wine industry dynamics and her working experience in both Old and New World environments make her well-placed to comment holistically on the changing world of wine. We are very pleased to be hosting someone of her calibre and look forward to the dynamic viewpoint she will present on Old World wine-making methods and vinification”.
In yet another break with tradition, this year’s Nederburg Auction, taking place in spring for the first time in the 33-year history of the event, will be featuring two keynote speakers. As well as Tom Perry, the managing director of the Rioja Wine Exporters’ Association, guests will be addressed on Saturday, September 29, by Mutle Mogase.
He is the executive chairman of Vantage Capital, the black-owned private equity fund with interests in mining, financial services and technology.
Mogase, who has been at the helm of Vantage Capital since its inception in 2001, is also a partner in the ultra-exclusive wine label Epicurean with premier of Gauteng, Mbhazima Shilowa; Ron T Gault, formerly of JP Morgan Investment Managers; and Moss Ngoasheng, chairman of Safika.
A BComm graduate from the University of Cape Town, it was while he was on campus that he developed his interest and knowledge in wine, joining the university wine society in 1984. By the late 80’s he was conducting tastings in the townships and in 1989, led a led a team of top South African winemakers to conduct what was probably the first tasting in Soweto under the auspices of the then Wine Foundation.
Mogase is also the chairman of the SA Venture Capital & Private Equity Association and serves on the Board of African Bank Investments Limited.
Says auction manager Christine Joubert: “We are delighted at the opportunity to have Mutle Mogase as a speaker. His entrepreneurial accomplishments are an inspiration. His involvement in wine and wine education and his innovative and resourceful approach to financing and business in general, will add an interesting dimension to the discussion on building a culture of wine appreciation in South Africa.”
Tom Perry, managing director of the Rioja Wine Exporters’ Association, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Nederburg Auction, on Saturday, September 29 in the Western Cape.
US-born Perry, who has lived in Spain for over 30 years has played a leading role in building the international profile of the Rioja region and its wines. Rioja, in north-central Spain, is arguably the country’s best-known wine region attracting visitors from all over the world. It is also one of the most prestigious, with Rioja wines priced at a premium.
Focusing simultaneously on international and domestic consumers, Rioja has a particular interest in reaching new-generation drinkers, eschewing traditional routes to engage their involvement, using instead channels such as comedy, horse racing, jazz and movies, as well as non-mainstream media.
Formerly a wine exporter, Perry has also been active in encouraging Rioja producers to style their wines more accessibly for New World wine drinkers, while remaining within the confines of the country’s stringent legislation. To this end, he works extensively with regional, national and European Union law makers, as well as with his region’s independent, corporate and co-operative producers. He lectures widely on international wine marketing and is a member of the steering committee of the Bilbao-Rioja chapter of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network and co-ordinates the network’s international communications.
Says auction manager Christine Joubert. “Tom Perry is widely respected in international circles for his innovative approach to building the reputation and visibility of Rioja wines. His enterprising approach to marketing and his conversancy with the demands of major international markets, make him well placed to offer South African producers a range of insights.”
She adds that his views on reaching younger adults will be very welcome in the South African context. “While wines in South Africa’s premium price category and higher, have shown good growth according to the major retailers, national average per capita consumption remains amongst the lowest for any wine-producing nation in the world. We have a pressing need to make wine more relevant to people in their 20s and 30s.”
Four high-powered African-American businesswomen, the executive members of Divas Uncorked, were the guest speakers, opening the 32nd Nederburg Wine Auction. They are Stephanie Browne, Carolyn Golden Hebsgaard, Karen Holmes Ward and Paula Wright. Divas Uncorked is a Boston-based wine education and consumer advocacy group that seeks to make wine more accessible to women, African-Americans and other minority groups in the United States by “breaking down the intimidating image of the wine world.”
Nicolas Joly of Clos de la Coulée de Serrant in Savennières in the Loire Valley – who harvested the 874th crop from one vineyard planted in 1130 by Cistercian monks. – is an exponent of the global biodynamic wine revolution, author of “Wine from Sky to Earth: Growing and Appreciating Biodynamic Wines” and owner of one of only three single estate appellations in France today.
The only way to express the originality of a vineyard site…
Biodynamics expert Nicolas Joly said that the unique vine sites of South Africa are inimitable anywhere else in the world and concluded that “the wine farmer should be an artist of the earth.”