Life is about change… Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s necessary, and sometimes it ends up being the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
Stormhoek, the business, was bought a few weeks ago by our long time bottler, Origin Wines. And, despite all our very best efforts, we seem to be unable to come to terms with our partner Graham, at the vineyard.
When we started Stormhoek back in 2003, we sat in our office in London and thought, “Why can’t we make great 5 pound South African Sauvignon Blanc? Why not beat the New Zealanders at their own game? Better, Cheaper and Faster!”
Our Managing Director at the time, Nick, was a great expert on South Africa, and he went there to research the project. Ultimately we went ahead, brought some tech, contracted out our production, designed a label, marketed and launched Stormhoek. People loved the wine!
But, as the brand grew, we realized that something was missing. There are some very successful brands in ZA that some nothing more than a label, with everything else being outsourced, but we felt that we needed a place to call home. So, we bought an interest in a little vineyard called Siyabonga, near Wellington. After years of effort, Siyabonga had not been able to sell its wine very successfully, and with Stormhoek’s growing business, it was a perfect place to buy what we could call a home. So it was a good fit for both parties.
And now Stormhoek is moving on because it has to, because the brand is growing internationally, and because change is needed. Its new owner doesn’t want to fix what ain’t broken– but he does want to provide a better home – kind of in the same way parents comes home one day and say “Kids, I bought a bigger and better house us to live in!” So, right now, we are continuing to bottle and blend our wines at Origin and we’re looking for a new home. We’re thinking something closer to Cape Town and maybe with some tasting facilities.
Graham and the good folks at the old vineyard will have to go back to selling Siyabonga, or maybe they can create a new brand to call their own, who knows. We wish them luck and hope that all goes well for them.
As our resident cartoonist, Hugh MacLeod likes to say, we live in interesting times.