More Swartland ownership changes

When reporting on some gossip current at the Swartland Revolution in November, I noted a suggestion “that ‘the Chinese’ are on the point of signing a deal to buy Swartland Winery – which would give ‘them’ a great big production facility”. Now, the generic reference has been personalised. Bloomberg News reports that “Electronics entrepreneur William Wu has become the latest Chinese investor to invest in South Africa’s wine industry after buying a majority stake in Swartland Winery” – see the full report here.

A leading Swartland winemaker commented: “One good thing is there will be less Swartland bulk wine heading to Europe so hopefully prices go up. Hope in general he pays the farmers enough for their fruit though.”

The Swartland cellar had previously recently been leased to Leeuwenkuil, the label of Willie Dreyer, owner of huge tracts of vineyard in the Swartland and Paarl. They then contracted to produce the Swartland ranges.Presumably the Swartland Winery brand will survive the latest change – Wu would probably be wise to have it so, given the name’s cachet, but it would undoubtedly be the best thing for the Swartland as a whole if it was only the region that used the name.

Meanwhile, no more firm news about the Lammershoek sale. I did hear from incoming CEO Andreas Abold that he was not “at present not in the position to comment on what you have blogged but hope we will meet in person soon in order to give you a full picture on the further development of one of the most important assets in the Swartland”.

8 thoughts on “More Swartland ownership changes

  1. Are you suggesting that the Swartland Winery not use the Swartland brand? Just trying to understand what you are saying in it being in the region’s best interest if “it was only the region that used the name”. Thanks.

  2. Oh, just a vague, Utopian thought, Emile. I think it would be good if regional names weren’t used by wineries, as it can cause confusion. All over the place in South Africa (but not so much elsewhere?) there are wineries which use the area name, but they generally do it with some distinction or addition – like Constania Uitsig or Stellenbosch Hills, and even that’s a pity in my opinion. But I’m pretty sure that no new producer wouldnow be allowed to call itself, say, Elgin Winery or Hemel-en Aarde Winery. This is presumably the main reason why the Wine and Spirit Board wouldn’t accept Perdeberg Winery’s proposal that a new ward containing them be called “Perdeberg”. In my opinion, yes, it would be great if Swartland Winery’s new majority shareholder found a new name for their business. Do you disagree?

    • They have a name: Swartland Winery, since 1948. And have every right to market product under that name. Such as Groot and Klein Constantia. Robertson Winery. Franschhoek Cellars, et al. No utopian ideals are going to change that.

  3. Not sure why you’re bothering to even say this, Emile. I never suggested otherwise. I merely pointed out that sometimes new owners change names, but that this was, unfortunately, not likely to happen here.

    • Just a bit of marketing 101: the value of the Swartland brand is about as much as Wu paid for 51 per cent. (Yes, I do have the figure). To even entertain the thought of the winery not milking the Swartland brand to the full is like suggesting the region replaces Chenin vines with Pinot Noir. This is why I asked. That’s all. And that is wine business.

  4. Well, part of Wine 101: Some people are excited by business, some by wine. I suggest you get yourself excited by business websites and leave mine alone.

    • Tim I actually agree with you, Durbnaville Hills is another one. What would be the value of the brand Swartland in China anyway? I doubt that Wu wants to now increase sales in SA, or USA for that matter! Besides what is Swartland in Chinese? Google can’t translate

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