Simonsig Wine Estate, Francois-Jacques Malan, tells me what’s up on the Family Estate…
Francois-Jacques Malan, Brand Manager of his Family Estate, Simonsig
I spoke to Francois-Jacques Malan [thrid generation Malan on the Simosnig Wine Estate] recently about what has been happening on the Estate. Not only are they very busy at harvest time, they are busy for the rest of the year, finishing off last year’s harvest and preparing for summer when it all starts again.
He said “ The month of July has certainly been a one of the toughest we had to endure, with another ban on wine sales imposed on us on the 12’th of July. It certainly forced us to unexpectedly change and/or delay some of our plans.
This time, the industry stood together to fight the regulations we felt were unjust and unscientific. It was fantastic to see how the whole tourism industry; accommodation, restaurants and wine came together, realising how we all need each other to survive and protested against these regulations together. Many people around the world heard our plight and social media is abuzz with people abroad posting pictures of the South African wines they are drinking, asking where they can find it and creating Facebook-groups and profiles displaying #SaveSAWine. Retailers and distributors abroad have jumped on the bandwagon to promote South African wines to their clientele. The camaraderie and solidarity we are seeing is absolutely amazing.
The only way South African clientele can support the wine industry at the moment is through e-commerce and this channel has also seen amazing growth. During the previous lockdown we ran some online specials, unsure how many people would part with their cash despite not knowing when they will receive their wines. The response was overwhelming, to such an extent that we had to revisit and improve our e-commerce systems, especially when it came to getting the wines out to customers in a speedy manner and keeping them informed. None of us thought we would ever experience a situation in our lifetimes again where there is a ban on wine sale and we need to deliver 2 months’ worth of online sales all at once. 6 weeks after the initial ban was lifted we found ourselves in that exact same situation where we can take orders, but only deliver after the ban is lifted. This time, however, we are much better prepared and we are running another online special on Mr Borio’s Shiraz and Gewürztraminer right now.
The lockdowns and alcohol bans obviously have no effect on the seasonal rhythms of Mother Nature. The vineyard teams are going about their job as usual; this time of the year we are pruning the vines. We believe great wines are made in the vineyard and it starts in winter with pruning; which can have very long term effects on the condition of a vineyard. Our staff are trained by renowned international pruning consultants; Simonit & Sirch. They usually work next to our staff in the vineyard and help them put theory into practice. This year, due to travel restrictions, the training was done from Italy & France via Zoom! Let’s hope we can welcome them back to our vineyards again next year!”
Thank you Farncois-Jacques – and best of luck with the rest of the year!