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The South African wine industry – the path forward



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While all economies and wine industries worldwide had challenges to face during lockdown in 2020, the South African industry arguably had it worse than most. The industry experienced bans that spanned from allowing teams into the vineyards for harvest, limiting the transport of alcohol and using alcohol for medicinal purposes to the complete ban on alcohol sales in the domestic market.

How did producers cope? What are the lessons they learned? And what is the outlook for the future?

The session will be moderated by Cathy van Zyl MW. Participants from all countries are encouraged to register interest as the session may be repeated to cover additional time zones.

Ntsiki Biyela – winemaker and director, Alsina Wines
Carolyn Martin – co-owner and marketing director, Creation Wines
Mike Ratcliffe – managing partner and co-founder, Vilafonté; chairman, Stellenbosch Wine Routes and chairman, Visit Stellenbosch
Siobhan Thompson – CEO, Wines of South Africa

About the panellists
Ntsiki Biyela
Ntsiki Biyela is the winemaker and director of Aslina Wines, a company named in honour of her late grandmother. She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 2003 with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) and joined Stellekaya, a boutique winery, as their winemaker in 2004. In 2009, Ntsiki was crowned Woman Winemaker of the Year. For two consecutive years, she was voted The Most Influential Women in Business and Government. In 2017, she was named in Top 20 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drinks by Fortune Magazine, and she has also been named as one of the top 15 Women in Wine to Watch by Food and Wine Magazine in the US. She has received numerous awards for her wines, including Gold Medals from the Michelangelo Wine and Spirits Awards for her 2016 and 2017 vintages, as well as Gold from the Sakura Awards in Japan for two consecutive years for different vintages. Today, she sits on the Board of Directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which trains young unemployed 18-25 year olds to prepare them for careers in the wine and tourism industries.

Carolyn Martin
Born and bred in the Cape Winelands and being a third-generation wine estate owner, it can be said that Carolyn Martin’s passion for wine is in her genes. Having completed her studies at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in Cape Town, she moved to London where she soon launched her own design company. Innovative brand development was her focus with world-renowned brands such as 3M, Laurent Perrier and 3i. Fast-forward to 2002, when Carolyn and her husband, Jean-Claude Martin, bought a farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge Wine Ward of South Africa. Naming it ‘Creation’, they set about developing it from scratch into a trendsetting estate within a few years. Dynamic, knowledgeable and always inventive, Carolyn is a wine and food pairing expert of note. Creation is the 2021 Global Winner of the GWC Award for Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences and was among the top 50 wineries at the 2019 World’s Best Vineyards (WBV) Awards. In 2019 Carolyn was designated a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International, honouring her for her deep sense of the needs of her community.

Mike Ratcliffe
Mike graduated in the first wine marketing class at Adelaide University in Australia and is an in-demand public speaker, industry commentator and marketing trendsetter. In 2001, he co-found Vilafonté with Dr. Zelma Long and Dr. Phil Freese. Vilafonté is the only winery in the world to be twice nominated for the New World Winery of the Year. Mike was managing director of 1.4 million bottle Warwick Estate for about two decades before exiting to Californian Silicon Valley-based Venture Capital. He was nominated for the Wine Star Award for Global Innovator of the Year in 2015 and again in 2017. Mike is chairman of the Stellenbosch Wine Route and chairman of Visit Stellenbosch, and founded Wine Business Advisors in 2016. He is a philanthropist and founding trustee of The Cape Wine Auction, South Africa’s most successful charity fund-raising event.

Siobhan Thompson
Siobhan is CEO of Wines of South Africa, a not-for-profit organisation established to promote South African wines in key export markets. Here she is responsible for leading the global strategy and market teams to generically promote South African Wine in order to enhance the image and reputation of South African wines in key international markets. Prior to this, she was Distell’s global head of marketing for Amarula Liqueur and the company’s International Whisky Portfolio. She was previously Distell’s group general marketing manager for brandies and cognac, and also worked for several years marketing the company’s wines. Before joining Distell in 2001, she was responsible for the UCT Graduate School of Business marketing and public relations. Having begun her working career in market research, first for Research Surveys and then AC Nielsen, Siobhan’s extensive experience also includes marketing fast moving consumer goods having worked within both Cosmetics and Food.

About the IMW webinar series
Webinars are open to anyone who wishes to attend. All guests are welcome to submit questions in advance or during the webinar. The IMW uses the Zoom webinar platform, instructions on how to join will be emailed to you. Please check your junk or spam folder if you do not receive an email confirmation when registering. Unless specified otherwise, webinars are recorded and will be made available online here a few days after the event.

Please use the Q&A to raise questions and spark discussion. While we welcome a lively, rich and thorough debate, opinions should be considered and respectful. It is at the IMW/moderator’s discretion to remove offensive comments and potentially block guests from the event.

If you have any questions, please contact Belinda Eaton at