The Van Loveren winery lost a quarter of its turnover last year due to South Africa’s COVID- 19 lockdown regulations.
The company has formed three black economic empowerment collaborations.
Within the next three years, 20% of Van Loveren’s wine grape intake will be sourced from B-BBEE producers.
The COVID-19 crisis and its related lockdowns hit businesses hard, and none more so than those in the alcohol and wine industry. As a result of the 2020 ban on alcohol sales in South Africa, which lasted for a total of around five-and-half months, Van Loveren winery in Robertson, Western Cape, run by the four Retief cousins, lost 25% of its turnover and a beloved B-BBEE partner.
However, the cousins didn’t lose their way; instead, the Van Loveren team chose to focus on innovating their marketing and product. And, unlike many other businesses, they were able to retain all their staff during this difficult period.
“Local wine sales were impossible for half [of 2020], but luckily we sell 40% of our wines overseas. This gave us a nice buffer,” says Phillip Retief, managing director of Van Loveren. He believes that diversification has been the family business’s saving grace. “I don’t think all wine companies necessarily did badly in the past year. Many do a lot of business overseas, and I think the weakness of the rand [last year] drove sales and assisted in growing margins.”
Van Loveren produces 1,5 million nine-litre cartons of wine per year. The Retiefs’ farming operations comprises 1 000ha of irrigated wine grapes, citrus, almonds and cherries. “We’re on a bit of an exploratory mission,” says Retief. “Yes, we are still primarily a wine company, but we have realised the value of diversification; not only in terms of branding and wine styles, but also with regard to moving into other products in order to better manage risk.”
They planted their fruit trees five years ago, and they are only now starting to bear. “It takes about 10 years to get a new product running in agriculture,” explains Retief.
AN UNFRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT
The Retief cousins have known for at least the past five years that the wine and liquor industry is not in government’s good books. “We knew this even before the [COVID-19] pandemic, but the events of the past year brought the simmering pot to a boil. The Disaster Management Act has made it easy for officials to do what they have wanted to do to the [wine and alcohol] industry for a long time. As a business, we needed to take this into account when planning our future.”
Going forward, the Retiefs anticipate even more changes to the local wine sector. “It could be a [curbing of] business hours, a minimum packaging volume, minimum unit pricing, or a higher legal drinking age,” says Retief.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Growing Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts attract their fair share of pests. Here’s how to identify and control the important species.
Cutworms and thrips are major threats to onion plants, and must be dealt with timeously to save your crop, says Bill Kerr.
Higher milk production, lower carbon footprint
Pressure is mounting on dairy farmers to reduce their carbon footprint. The good news is that research shows it is not only possible, but can be done in a way that increases productivity. Lindi Botha reports.
Improving seed import/export regulations in Rwanda
Increasing sugar tax will cost more jobs – industry
With the ending of the moratorium on increases to the Health Promotion Levy (HPL), or so-called sugar tax, in 2022, renewed calls to double the levy could cost the sugar industry millions of rands.
Saving Southern Africa's smallest wild cat
Marion and Richard Holmes, who live near Cradock in the Eastern Cape, have made it their life’s ambition to conserve the vulnerable black-footed cat and African wildcat. They spoke to Annelie Coleman about the methods they employ.
There was a period in South Africa’s past when a well-kept tennis court was as much a part of a prosperous farm as a vegetable garden or a tractor. And this applied in the dusty Karoo as well as in the lush Lowveld, says Graham Jooste.
Meet the ‘Barbarians'
A display of part of farmer Herman Dewing‘s huge collection of barbed wire. FW ARCHIVE
Watch out for glyphosate contamination
The repeated use of the herbicide glyphosate has been found to compromise fruit production. James Dick, co-owner of production consultancy DNS Crop Institute, spoke to Glenneis Kriel about this problem.
Fire and regenerative rangeland management
Fire is a management tool and, like a hammer, it can have good or bad consequences, depending on how and when it is used. This requires careful consideration of a farm’s conditions, writes Colin Nott, a regenerative agricultural consultant based in Namibia.
Barberton is known for its gold rush history and the unique geology of the surrounding mountains. Come meet the people who call this fascinating townhome.
Waiting For Santa
Amy’Leigh de Jager is excited for Christmas but she’s still struggling to adjust after her traumatic kidnap ordeal