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Youngsters venture into organic wine

Jul 03 2013 09:50

Surfer Marthinus Botha (left) and event organiser De Vos Meaker of Green Shebeen (Supplied)

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Cape Town - Two young Capetonians – an avid surfer and an event organiser/band manager– are tackling the South African wine industry with their Green Shebeen brand.

With their down-to-earth wine drinking and business model, Marthinus Botha and De Vos Meaker are trying to win over a new generation of eco-conscious consumers in the local wine market.

It is a joint venture with the Org de Rac Estate in the Swartland.

In 2011 Meaker’s dad, Frank, who is both a wine maker and consultant, informed him and Botha of an organic wine farm, which had excess inventory of high quality wine. It presented a good opportunity for them.

“We initially wanted to sell the wine to students at a bargain price, but after some pondering we realised that with the quality of wine we had access to we could add real value here,” said Botha.

“After some further pondering we created a clearly differentiated brand that enforces the quality organic wine we offer.”

When their original quick scheme turned into a more serious venture, they decided to exposed themselves to the highly competitive wine industry.

“Soon we realised that it would be necessary to partner up with the estate Org de Rac in order to make Green Shebeen a viable venture,” said Meaker.

They wanted to create a brand that has appeal to a younger and more contemporary consumer.

“We felt that virtually all the brands on the market producing premium quality products occupied very traditional brand positions. It hinged on attributes such 'heritage' or 'tradition' that are perhaps not very relevant to a modern twenty-something year old,” explained Meaker.

“We also personally do a lot of field work such as tastings and promotional activities, which is a great way to interact and engage with our customers.”

The grapes they used to make the wine were not treated with any chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertiliser.

In the wine making process itself there are substantially less sulphites added. They use about 30% of what is legally allowed in the production of traditional wines.

“It is impractical to completely eliminate the use of sulphites as it is used to stabilise and preserve the wine - without a small amount of sulphites wine would very quickly turn into vinegar, said Meaker.

Botha added that they think there is certainly a shift in consumer preference to more healthy, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced products.

“The world is more connected today than ever before, the result of this is a lot more power for consumers, because they can now demand choice,” he added.

“It is however important to acknowledge that product quality and taste still comes before anything else, therefore it's essential to commit the effort in making sure that environmentally friendly or healthy products deliver in these areas.”

In the US the annual organic wines sales total $26bn, for instance and has year-on-year growth of 22% according to an industry report released a couple of years ago.

“We think statistics like these are indicative of the trend that can be expected in South Africa in the coming years,” said Botha.

They have recently shipped their first consignment to the US based retail group Whole Foods Market.

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wine  |  entrepreneurs  |  organic
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