Groote Post: channelling a crisis into an opportunity
Farmer's Weekly|June 18, 2021
In 2020, South Africa’s wine industry encountered an unusual challenge: a ban on the sale of alcohol as part of the fight against COVID-19. This crisis spurred Groote Post, a family-run wine farm outside Darling, to blend its Internet savvy and tourism offerings with its tradition of winemaking and selling. The farm’s Nick and Peter Pentz spoke to Jeandre van der Walt.
Jeandre van der Walt

On 27 March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African government introduced its first ban on all sales of alcoholic beverages. According to Nick Pentz, owner of Groote Post, the business lost three months of sales to the public, retailers and restaurants. While grateful that exports could continue soon after the initial ban, the business was under no illusion that exports alone would ensure its sustainability. He points out that Groote Post’s overseas markets were also severely affected by COVID-19 and orders were therefore much smaller than usual.

The situation forced Groote Post to quickly devise plans to keep the effects of the ban to a minimum for the farm and its 70 employees.

“COVID-19 limited us, but it also forced us to be creative to overcome these limitations. We had to look at ways of turning this threat into an opportunity, and how we can operate in this new normal,” says Peter Pentz, communications manager at Groote Post.

The vineyards of Groote Post are all situated on the southern slopes of the Darling Hills, a few kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean.

“The cooling effect of the ocean creates an ideal climate in which vines flourish, providing a longer growing season with greater development of flavours in the grapes,” explains Peter.

Wine production on Groote Post consists of 65% white wine and 35% red wine. To date, 115ha have been planted to cultivars like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Weisser Riesling, Semillon and Chenin Blanc.

Groote Post offers a portfolio of 14 wines of which about 80% are sold locally, while the rest are exported. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz are their leading wines.

In addition to the vineyards and winemaking, the Pentz family also produces wheat, canola, barley and fodder crops. They also run an Angus stud and a commercial South African Mutton Merino flock for meat and wool production.

Moreover, the farm shares a 2 000ha game camp with one of its neighbouring farms, which is home to about 13 indigenous antelope species, zebra and giraffe.

FAST FACTS

COVID-19 has forced numerous wineries to start thinking differently about business.

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