KWV – balancing greatness and innovation
13 November 2015
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual live, great things start here, great things start now and it’s time to chat some more wine once again and it’s someone who’s no stranger to Old Mutual Live Wine. We’ve had him on a couple of times before. He’s the chief winemaker at KWV and they’ve got a couple of huge names in their stable.
I wanted to find out a little bit more about those wines and also just about getting the balance right with regards to really pushing hard and establishing those brands and making them even stronger than what they are currently. But also bringing new things in, Johann, welcome back onto Old Mutual Live. I think let’s start off by talking about some of the big names that you’ve got in the KWV stable.
KWV is steeped in history
Johann Fourie: KWV is obviously best known for its wines and brandies. It started out in 1918. For a bit of interest, it shares a birthday with Nelson Mandela and it’s been around for a couple of years. Today it’s a private company. It doesn’t fulfil its industry-supporting role that it did in the past.
We compete commercially like anyone else but we still remain selling our wines under the KWV brand and on the Drinks International which is a publication from the UK, they do a top 50 of the most recognised wine brands in the world and KWV sits at number 33 on that list. Making it the only South African producer in the top 50 so you can just imagine how important brand KWV is.
That kind of explains why we still are selling under the name KWV but also very famous in our portfolio is a wine which I’m sure you’re familiar with, Roodeberg which is seen by many as the icon or the flagship red blend coming out of South Africa. So that together with brands Cathedral Cellar and KWV, the Mentors are some of our better known brands.
BB: Johann, you talk about those brands and just how well-established they are. Is there a drive from KWV to, not reinvent them but to be adding new ones all the time or is it a case of just trying to improve the brands that you’ve spent many years creating and I don’t want to say perfecting because I don’t think you can every perfect it but to build them as strong as you are?
We do balance the best of both worlds
JF: Ja, that’s kind of the exciting bit working at KWV, is there’s so much heritage and tradition. Take a wine like Roodeberg that’s been around for 66 years now, so you have to respect where we’re coming from and have to stylistically keep it intact going forward. So you have to respect the past but to answer your question, I think in the South African context we’re of the more innovative pioneering spirited teams out there.
As I mentioned, we’ve got a custom built, experimental cellar, we’re a young team so whenever there’s something new on wine growing sites or terroirs or new grape varietals or new winemaking techniques we’re more often than not the first people to jump onto what’s new and exciting and play around with those, so a bit of both. We’re keeping and building on what’s been around for a couple of decades but definitely when you visit your cellar door and our wine shops, you’ll get to see all the new and innovative stuff that we’re busy with.
BB: Awesome stuff, Johann Fourie. Thank you very much for your time here on Old Mutual Live. It is much appreciated. We look forward to catching up again soon and thank you for sharing a little bit about KWV with us today.
JF: No, it’s a pleasure thanks.