The State of the Wines Address

Our winemakers unwinding at End of Year function, Chris Geldenhuys, Shawn Thomson & Willie Stofberg

Our winemakers unwinding at End of Year function: Chris Geldenhuys, Shawn Thomson & Willie Stofberg

I have found it particularly tough to write in recent weeks; the writer’s block was due to mutually exclusive reasons. One, the preoccupation with the redesign of our website and two, the spate of rural unrest that swept through the Western Cape in recent weeks.

Our website is a very positive development. It has taken a number of months to come to fruition, as we attempted to communicate “Du Toitskloof’s personality” on a computer screen. Quantifying it and putting personality to design is more complex a process than we had anticipated. However, with much collaboration, numerous marketing meetings and working with wine.co.za, we managed to work within their web-design template and come up with something more visually-stimulating, fresh and streamlined.

We have firmly jumped on the social media bandwagon in 2012 and this is reflected on our improved website, with a “Social Media Toolbox” located at the bottom of the page. With the plethora of platforms that appeal to different people, from Pinterest to Twitter, from Facebook to WordPress, we needed to speak to everyone without creating a cluttered appearance. We’re hoping our clients have found our increasing diversity useful and tailor-made to their needs.

On the slightly unpleasant side, the rural unrest in certain Western Cape farming communities has had us quite alarmed; the gross generalisation of public utterances have been extremely disheartening. As one of the largest FairTrade (Fairhills project) flag-bearers in Africa, with empowerment and best- in-industry labour credentials, it was heartbreaking and disappointing to have the entire industry painted with one broad brush by political opportunists.

Public anger was stirred in certain towns amongst the seasonal rural workforce or unemployed living in informal settlements. So much of the so-called “farm worker strike” was peppered more with rural-town service-delivery issues, structural societal unemployment and political posturing than it was for its media moniker: farm protest. This is evident in our valley, where seasonal work is rare, our community is part of the Fairhills project and where sound labour practices and rural empowerment is priority. You cannot mobilise content people working for mutual benefit, so we escaped the contagion. Through the hard work of farm employees and our accredited producers and their constant, collective engagement, we have escaped unscathed as a community and stronger than ever.

In better news, 2012 has been the year of the accolade. We have been completely humbled by the slew of awards that our wines have accumulated. Just late last week, three of DuToitskloof box-wine offerings made it to the Top10 in South Africa, with our Chenin Blanc taking poll position. This came on the back of a very successful Michelangelo Awards ceremony, awarding numerous of our wines, including an auspicious double gold for our Dimension red-blend. The FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top10 awards named us as one of the best in the nation and the only larger producer to win such a stamp of high-quality approval.  Even our brand new, naturally sparkling range, Cape Beach Club, was awarded as Best Value for Money wine in its category for 2013.

With the last couple of years being the time of austerity, we are pleased to offer wines of distinction at excellent prices. Stressed consumers don’t have to sacrifice their inner sommelier in lieu of their wallet. We will happily oblige no matter what the packaging may be; we do not compromise on excellence between the bottle or box, cork or screw-cap.

We are also getting close to announcing our premier red-blend range. At an exclusive tasting, prominent wine commentators were invited to the cellar to taste Willie Stofberg’s latest and greatest straight from the barrels. Once Quest is launched, we will have all bases covered and we will offer a wine for any occasion.

In the vineyards, things are looking good for 2013. Most vines look particularly healthy and although we had some pretty vicious wind over the last week or two, the damage appears to be minimal. The best Christmas present we can receive is if the weather continues to play ball; we could be in for a good harvest if current estimates are anything to go by. With a good winter behind us, our water reserves are also looking healthy for the latter part of summer.

Finally, but by no means least important, is the role that you, the loyal Du Toitskloof consumer, has played in making 2012 great. Thank you for continually believing in us, our producers, our winemakers, our workforce and other contributing parties. Thank you for rewarding our continued efforts to produce value-of-money wines in a socially responsible manner. Thank you for always arriving at the store and saying, “When in doubt, go with Du Toitskloof.” This vote of confidence in our unwavering commitment to consistent quality, is what keeps us successful and means we too, can look forward to an even better 2013 with your support.

Du Toitskloof & Fairtrade

Press Release: 19 November 2012

Du Toitskloof Wines (DTKW) is very proud of the fact that in terms of the accreditation by Fairtrade of the cellar and the farms of all its members almost eight years ago, it presently operates and sells Fairtrade certified wines, either in bulk or bottle, supporting one of the biggest Fairtrade projects anywhere in the world.

To receive Fairtrade accreditation, DTKW and its members had to achieve and has maintained a high standard of ethical and sustainable farming and winemaking practices, particularly in the treatment and remuneration of workers. Every farm and the cellar, undergoes a stringent auditing process each year for the renewal of their Fairtrade certification.

All cellar staff members are paid substantially more than the minimum wages prescribed by government. However, the ethical treatment of staff involves much more than the monthly or weekly wages they earn; it also involves their overall level of well-

Fairhills kids playing at the newly renovated Tierstel Daycare Centre – Now sports veggie tunnel

being and quality of life. For this reason, accommodation is made available to them free of charge or at very low monthly rentals. Early in 2012, DTKW upgraded all its staff accommodation. Houses were gutted on a rotation basis and completely refurbished: new ceilings, new floors, kitchen cupboards, bathrooms, new plumbing and new electrification were installed.

The Fairhills project that has resulted from our Fairtrade accreditation, has contributed enormously in recent years to the enrichment of the lives of not only the workers, but of their families, in particular the children. Everyone is involved in this project: all our 13 producer-members, their 19 grape farms, approximately 400 farm workers and their 1 200 dependents.

The project is managed independently by a committee of 34 farm workers, who decide how the premium income will be allocated and to which projects. The premium of €0.70 in the case of red wine and €0.80 in the case of white, is paid by socially-conscious consumers, who buy Fairtrade wines such as those produced by DTKW, thus contributing to the upliftment of workers in participating emerging countries.

In addition to the premium paid by consumers, the Fairhills project also receives funding from certain overseas retailers, local non-governmental organisations, South African government departments with DTKW itself, a substantial contributor.

One of the first projects initiated by Fairhills, was the establishment of day-care centres for the children of working parents, staffed by trained caregivers. Three have been in operation since 2006. Today they provide care for 170 children between the ages of three months and five years. The children are transported to and from the centres in buses bought for this purpose, receive two nourishing meals a day, and are checked once a week by a qualified medical nurse. All activities are selected to stimulate development while the older children, those between four and five years old, are taught computer literacy.

These centres, where children from non-Fairtrade farms are also welcome, are run by an ex-farm worker and a management committee of farm workers. They provide employment for 23 women from the surrounding farms, who all receive ongoing training in early-childhood development.

The Fairhills Project is also deeply involved in the running of the Lorraine Primary School, situated on one of our member farms. The school has approximately 100 learners, of which almost 90% are from member farms. It originally only consisted of three classrooms. The first addition was a kitchen, where meals could be prepared for learners as well as for the little ones in day-care centres.

In the last few years separate classrooms were added for grades 3 and 4, while a new classroom for Grade 5 is proposed for 2013. When completed, every grade will have its own classroom, where specific learners can be taught for longer periods in a familiar environment.

A community library opened its doors two years ago, which serves both learners and adults. In the same year the school completed construction of a computer centre, which today, has a bank of 28 computers. Those receiving training in addition to the older children at the day-care centres, are learners at the primary school, as well as Fairhills learners in Grades 11 and 12.

Attached to the school is an after-care centre available to learners up to and including Grade 4. These learners are assisted with their homework and also receive an after-school lunch. At the same time, it provides employment for four adults who manage the programme.

Over the years a community centre was built which plays an important role as a focal point of social activities and a meeting place for members of the community.

 —Ends—