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May 26, 2005

the stormhoek manifesto

BAR stormhoek2.jpg

This is the first draft, which I wrote with the help of the groovy cats at Stormhoek. It's still a work in progress etc:


It isn't just about the wine.

It doesn't matter how good the wine is. Wine is just molecules- very enjoyable molecules, yes, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Making wine requires everything you've got, otherwise the exercise is pointless. Otherwise you're better off becoming a lawyer.

It's not enough to love the wine. You have to love the way you make it as well.

All that we do, from start to finish, is governed by a set of rules, a mantra, a code of conduct – our ‘Stormhoek Standards’ that require in everything we do, to deliver the absolute best possible.

It isn't rocket science, it's just what we do. We do it because we believe.

Stormhoek Standards are, when taken together, a protocol to ensure the consistency and quality of our wines, carried out in a passionate, responsible, principled manner. Quality on its own is a single aspect; Stormhoek Standards is our wine made manifest in human action.

It's what we are.

Why bring soil experts in from France to work with our growers? Why engage some of the most renowned white wine experts in the world to work on improving the quality and freshness of our whites? Why obsess about grape yields, clones and orientation of our vineyards?

Because this stuff matters to us.

Every little thing we do from vine to bottle effects the ultimate quality of our wine. We must do hundreds of things right, 365 days of the year.

Or else we have nothing.

In the vineyard, we actively guide the decisions and actions of our growers with our ‘wine skills’ training programme – teaching them The Stormhoek Way. Ensuring that farmers understand how different one grape variety is different from the next. All need to be cultivated like children – with love and care, but differently depending on their needs and temperament. We farm sustainability and responsibly, keeping the use of pesticides and herbicides to an absolute minimum.

We think it's worth fighting for. This is what defines us, as winemakers, producers and human beings with people we love and love us back.

As well as ‘wine skills’, our programme also brings empowering life skills. The people who work so hard to create our wines are treated fairly and well. Stormhoek’s home – a magical valley just outside Wellington, in the Western Cape – is home to dozens of families, as well as a ground-breaking community education project. Stormhoek isn’t a label and a bank account – it’s people, place, heart and soul.

Our wine has to taste like the people around us matter, or else, again, we have nothing.

Finally, in the bottle, Stormhoek Standards are about capturing the freshness and vitality of South Africa. Our wines buzz with excitement and life. Whites and rosés that are fresh, crisp, zesty, buoyant, vibrant, enticing. Reds that are jammy, satisfying, plump. Styles that are relevant, modern and attractive to our customers. All delivering outstanding value. All tasting fantastic.

We have chosen to spend our short time we have been given on this earth to make wine. And when people drink Stormheok, they will know.

They will know.

As it now stands, it seems to me more of an "internal message". The trick is how to externalize it (Hint: use way fewer words).

Posted by hugh macleod at May 26, 2005 12:55 PM



Sounds like Steve Martin in The Jerk.

Posted by: egalitarian at May 26, 2005 4:55 PM

Couldn't you say that about all wine makers? I'm not an oenophile, but my perception is that wine makers are all crazily obsessed about quality. You always see the pictures of the old winery owner out there sniffing things, holding the glass up to the sun to check for impurities... don't you? That's my perception.

The wine makes that seem to be making headway now are the ones that sort of say... wine isn't only for "wine lovers" it's for everyone, and we're making it totally accessible to YOU because we LOVE it so much we want to share share share...

So far then, nothing here that makes me think, as I did with English Cut, I need to know more... now...

Posted by: Rockster at May 27, 2005 4:28 AM

I understand what you're going for, but it's not resonating with me - too much like every other piece of promotion out there, wine or otherwise.

Something along the lines of "We make wine because we love it. We love wine because we live it."? I understand the sentiment, and the passion the folks at Stormhoek have for their product... the trick is figuring out how to make it instantly apparent.

Photoblog, maybe? A few pictures of the people who work there would go a long way, I think.

Posted by: Josh Kaufman at May 27, 2005 5:57 AM

To make it external, I think you have to dump the "it's not just about the wine" thing, because it makes it sound like all wines are the same, except for the surrounding story. While Seth Godin might say that is true, you probably don't want to say that to people.

I think you need to frame it in terms of how the cult-ure leads to something special in the mouth.

I think the "freshness" (fruit-forward?) story could be good, and I'd frame the whole story about how the internal culture is driven by a hunt-for-freshness or something... that near-last paragraph referencing "vitality" seems like the right direction, the earlier stuff seems off-the-mark...

But I may be overly linear.

Posted by: Bill Seitz at May 28, 2005 4:12 PM

I agree. As it stands this document is an internal message. I'm confused between standards and wine. Are the standards the wine, or the wine the standards?

Right now you have:
"Stormhoek Standards is our wine made manifest in human action."

This makes more sense to me (but what do I know??)
"Stormhoek wine is our standard made manifest in human action."


Right now you have:
"Making wine requires everything you've got, otherwise the exercise is pointless. Otherwise you're better off becoming a lawyer.

It's not enough to love the wine. You have to love the way you make it as well."

How about:
"Making wine requires everything you've got.

It's not enough to love the wine. You have to love the way you make it as well."

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Jay Sennett at June 1, 2005 8:36 PM

So when do we learn about how wine is produced, where Stormhoek is actually made (with pictures, hopefully!), and why I should be demanding Stormhoek at my table? Thomas Mahon is now the only tailor I'd go to on Saville Row, so now why is Stormhoek the only wine I should be drinking?

Posted by: Peter Cooper at June 14, 2005 2:17 AM

tip: it's one thing when you tell people how great you are, it's quite another when it comes from a happy customer.

if i was in your shoes, i'd keep this section simple and focus on building a testimonials section.

Posted by: Lorenzo at August 12, 2005 11:02 AM

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