Carrie’s Corner: ‘We are very passionate about our local market’ – Anthonij Rupert Wines

Carrie Adams talks to Gareth Robertson of Anthonij Rupert Wines. The marketing manager of the Franschhoek-based winery discusses challenges the alcohol industry has faced over the past year, as well as planning for the upcoming harvest. – Jarryd Neves

Gareth Robertson on the effects of the alcohol ban:

It has been a very tough year. I think a lot of frustration – obviously with the liquor lockdown and not being able to trade. There’s obviously implications of not being able to sell as much as we normally would have and budgeted for. That definitely has implications on stock holding and producing stock. I think it’s really started to come to the crunch is actually now – when we have to start planning for the new harvest. We’ve already had some grapes come in, and trying to readjust our volumes of what we currently have in stock and didn’t sell the previous year, to what we’re going to be selling going forward.

On the local wine industry:

At Anthonij Rupert Wines, we are about 80% locally focused. We are very passionate about selling into our local market. With what has happened, we’ve been hit quite hard. I was driving through Franschhoek on the weekend and during this time, usually the main road is just bustling with people, the restaurants are full and you have to book in a week in advance. It was almost like a ghost town. I just think the restaurants are really struggling.

We’ve tried to reach out to these restaurants and say, what can we do? And they actually just say to me, Gareth, we just need people to come to the restaurant’. For us, we’ve had to just really strategise and see what we want to do. Unfortunately, I think there is going to be some dumping and big discounts, because that’s just a traditional way of actually trying to sell a stock. That’s going to be quite tough.

On whether there is a market for upmarket boxed or bagged wine:

 I think there’s definitely potential on that. But no, I don’t think it fits into our range of what we want to offer. But if you look at Scandinavia and how well they’ve done with bag in the box, it’s their biggest thing – and that bag in the box is really good. I think Woolworths, locally, key have done a great push.

They’ve put Beyerskloof Pinotage and Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc into bag in the box, and it’s really good juice.  I think, what has worked abroad is that people see value. A lot of them are on yachts or something like that. It makes it easier to dispose of it.

On their harvest for 2021:

We actually took in some grapes – and I tasted the juice. It is looking superb. Really looking nice. Our Pinot Grigio has come in and we will most probably have a young block of merlot in Franschhoek, that will most probably bring in next week. So that will be our first red. The whites that we’ve gotten are really nice – we have a bit of sauvignon blanc as well. So it’s really looking good. I think the harvest is a bit less than the previous year – we had a big harvest last year.

On the winemakers at Anthonij Rupert Wines:

 We’ve got a few winemakers. Dawie Botha is our cellar master, so he’s in charge of the strategy. Mark van Buuren makes the white wines. Then we’ve got Zanie Viljoen, who heads up the bubbles project – L’Ormarins. We’ve also got Vernon Van Der Hoven, who does a lot of the Optima wines.

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