Business Week Video


“BW Small Biz Editor Nick Leiber talks to Greg Verdino, marketing blogger and chief strategy officer at marketing firm Crayon, about how small-business owners can use new, low-cost Web tools to market their products and services.”

Greg’s nice enough to mention Stormhoek and Hugh.

Here’s the Vid

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Nothing Matters if You Can’t Put it in The Bottle


We all take things for granted: Turning on the light switch, filling up at the pump, opening the tap. Yet without these simple necessities, society would disintegrate overnight. And it seems we in the wine trade are soon about to re-learn this lesson the hard way.

Why? Bottles. Yes, bottles.

A very large percentage of wine is filled in to glass bottles. It is said that the invention of glass containers has been the single most important development in the history of wine. Imagine hauling home a 300 lb. earthenware “amphora” from your local wine shop, and you get the picture.

The wine industry has taken the plentiful supply of cheap glass bottles for granted. Outside the US and Australia, the glass bottle market has been very competitive, with oversupply the rule. There are lots of reasons for the surplus, but one basic challenge for bottle manufacturers is that once they flip the switch on a glass furnace, it cannot be turned off. It must run 24/7, 365 days a year. With every country in Western Europe producing wine, there have always been lots of manufacturers, competition… and supply.

Over the years, we’ve noticed a few anomalies with glass pricing: For example, in a low cost energy market like the US, low end wine bottles have historically cost nearly three times what they cost in Europe, where energy costs are much higher. It never made much sense until one realizes that the glass bottle business in the US is an oligopoly.

Graham was quoted in an article in last week about the shortage of glass in South Africa.
Taken in isolation, the ZA glass ‘shortage’ looks like the unintended consequence of one of the two glass manufacturers taking a furnace out of production to upgrade and add capacity. However, this is not a story exclusive to South African.

The reality is that furnaces are allegedly being taken out all over Europe as well. Coincidence? The way we see it, glass manufacturers are putting the squeeze on the wine industry. Glass prices are skyrocketing and the world’s largest glass manufacturer, Owens Illinois, with dominant market position in wine bottle markets of South Africa, Europe and many other countries, declared a 33% increase in earnings on 15% increase in sales. (Share price has tripled this year)

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but It is not hard to pencil out a carefully crafted plan, instigated by a couple of glass manufacturers to create shortages in the market and take massive price increases. This is just how it looks to me, and glass industry people are talking amongst themselves about it.

Take it from me, to have gone to all the trouble of producing a great wine, only to discover you can’t deliver it because of a shortage of something you had hithero always taken for granted- the glass bottle to put it in- is a mind-blowing experience.

To have your wine sitting in tanks without any way of getting it into consumer’s glasses, is an irony not lost on the bottle manufacturers.

It is a very bad situation for all wine producers. Mark my words, the biggest story in the wine trade this year won’t be about wine, it’ll be about shortages of glass bottles keeping the wine from getting to market.

There is much more to this story and I will try to post more on it.

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Couture launches with Threshers at Taste London Festival

The biggest drinks phenomenon of the Summer has hit the UK and South Africa. COUTURE {by Stormhoek} - a limited production world exclusive rosé crafted to taste better with ice and fruit has been launched exclusively by Threshers (UK) - 6.99 (Buy 3 for 2 and get Couture for 4.66 each).

Have a look at the video of our June launch in Regents Park at Taste London 2007. We were sited in the Thresher Wine Zone where we had a fully kitted out COUTURE BAR and loads of SWAG (stripy flip flops, t-shirts, caps, lollies, etc.). The launch was a huge success and we’re doing some more consumer shows towards the end of the year!!

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pete’s tale of woe…

[Pete in a state of woe etc.]

Poor ol’ Pete sent me the following e-mail yesterday:

Hi Hugh.

Here begins a tale of woe.

Having purchased (and thoroughly enjoyed) a bottle of your fine pinotage last night [i.e. the night before the new Stormhoek promo was posted] for the first time, myself and my two colleagues (one of them happens to be my wife) decided to take you up on your challenge today and ran (literally) to the local Tesco to take our photos there. Just outside the building, my foot found its way into the hole where a brick once lived and I seriously sprained my ankle.

Not only this, but the Tesco we ran to didn’t have any Stormhoek! After helping me limp back to the office, my lovely wife’s off to find an ankle support and some frozen peas.

Anyway, I’ve attached some photos of me looking sad in Tesco (ok i’m not looking sad, but it really hurts), and a photo of my foot and some wine. Surely this has to be worth a case? :)
[Pete's foot in a state of woe etc.]

(Keep in mind that, if I wasn’t one of the first 6, it’s because I had to limp back). Oh well… you can’t blame me for trying.)

Thanks, and keep up the good work.


Heh. Check out Pete’s neat website, “Your Name On Toast”.

[Note To Self:] I vote Pete gets a case of Stormhoek, anyway…

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will buys stormhoek


We have our first winner… Thanks, Wil!

[Wil's Flickr pic is here.]

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Is Tap Water back in Fashion?!


It seems that the San Francisco Bay Area is making tap water fashionable again. For an increasing number of restaurants along the sunny coastline, bottled water has become an outcast and is being replaced by filtered tap water, or being fizzed up by a soda-fountain-style, carbonating machine.

It’s really about the profitability of bottled water for most restaurants, but for the select few, moving “back” to tap water shows a concern about the effect on the environment. In addition, the costs of bottling, transporting water, the energy spent recycling the glass, and keeping plastic out of landfills, is another reason to go back to good ol’ nature herself.

“Drunken Doodles”


We love our cartoons at Stormhoek, especially the ones by Hugh Macleod.

The Telegraph today, states that a “drunken doodle”, drawn on a wall by Picasso, has been bought for 250 000 pounds, by The Wellcome Trust, the UK’s biggest medical charity.

Drawn in 1950, in crayon, on plaster, it represents the only “mural” Picasso produced in England.

The drawing, which according to The Wellcome Trust, symbolises “an unusual meeting of great scientific and artistic minds”, will be put on display as part of the Wellcome Collection, a 30 million pound venue exploring the connections between medicine, life and art.

The Collection goes “live” in London, in June 2007.

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Wine with Curry


Wine and food expert, Fiona Beckett, has a cool new website.

Here she looks at wines to match the gut wrenching power of a Vindaloo curry.

Stormhoek Pinotage comes out as the champion choice.

Symbiotic Relationships


The symbiotic relationship between bloggers and journalists is an interesting one…

Over at theshowroom restaurant, in Cape Town, a similar relationship exists. Flamboyant Bruce Robertson, ex Advertising creative and former head chef at the exclusive Cape Grace Hotel, offers a “minimalist melbournesque décor and graphic presentation” style restaurant that is housed in a luxury car showroom - look right for the Lamborghinis and Porsches and left for a view of Table Mountain. The clientelle would most certainly be beneficial to both i would imagine.

Graham and I loved the all-white dining room dotted with Starck’s transparent ghost chairs.

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Says Bruce:

“I really get a kick out of the visual thing, after all, you eat with your eyes first”

“Cooking a dish is never entirely new, it’s just how you put it together”

A sexy car evokes the same emotion, does it not?!



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