The Seven Sisters – a place of our own
13 January 2016
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Great things start here, great things start now. I’m Brad Brown and it’s a pleasure to welcome another returning guest onto the podcast today. We’ve had her on a couple of times to talk a little bit about her brand of wines, the Seven Sisters. It’s an incredible story.
If you haven’t read up or heard about it, make sure, you listen to the previous two podcasts, but what a pleasure to welcome back on, Vivienne Kleynhans. Vivienne, welcome and thanks for taking the time to talk to us once again.
Vivienne Kleynhans: Thank you Brad. It’s a pleasure.
BB: Vivienne, the previous two chats we’ve had, we spoke a little bit about your history and growing up in Paternoster, and how you were exposed to wine. The challenges that you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now. We’ve also touched on all the wines that you do produce the Seven Sisters and the family as well.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the farm. You mentioned in the previous chat that you are currently or you have planted your own vines and you’ll be producing your own Seven Sisters Reserve at the end of 2016. Tell me a little bit about the farm itself. Where’s it situated and what’s the history of that piece of land? How did you come to acquire it?
How we acquired our farm
VK: Brad, yes you know when I visited the London International Wine Trade Fair I realised that you cannot, when you want interaction with importers, they are not interested in you if you don’t have a farm. That was the history of the wine industry because Europe is the largest market for South African wines.
So I came back, and I thought about it and I didn’t know what to do. Because we did not even have money to start the wine company and now we have to look at a farm. We found a piece of land just 15kms out of Stellenbosch, in the Lynedoch area.
We are on the Welmoed Road, from Annandale Road. This piece of land we acquired through the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. At the time when I approached the office of the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform I was not even aware of that there’s a programme like that.
Then we were awarded a 9-hectare piece of virtual land in Stellenbosch. We looked at it and it meant that we had to, even put in the roads that we were going to drive into the farm. We had to build that as well.
That journey started in 2009, when the farm, the piece of land was registered in the name of the Trust and it’s for myself and my sisters and their husbands, and my brother and his wife, and our children over the age of 18. We are about 31 members that this piece of land belongs to.
The making of a wine farm
So myself and my son, which is 28 years old, we started to develop this piece of land. We then built a wine storage facility of 400 square metres, so that whenever we have to purchase our wines to bring it here. Then the next phase was to plant the grapes, which we’ve done in 2013 and 2014.
Then the next phase was to build the wine casing facility that we also registered as a restaurant. We realise that we might not have many feet coming through the door if we keep it open as a restaurant, but we have so many international guests and tourists, who always make contact with us and want to come and do a wine tasting.
That was the drive behind the building, it’s about 100 to 120 seater tasting facility, where we would do wine and food pairings. We will obviously approach tourist companies to bring their tourists to the farm, to do food and wine pairings.
If they require a meal, a lunch, or a dinner or a breakfast we can obviously supply or do that for them, so we’re planning to open our doors on the 14th December. We are all excited. My sisters are going to be doing the cooking. We are just doing the type of food that my mother used to cook for us, so it’s going to be family run.
Yes, it’s going to be our children and the sisters that’s going to do that. We are looking so forward to welcoming people on the farm. We would obviously love to get the local folks here, and to tell them our story and to encourage them to whatever they go through or do the same thing, type of things.
BB: Vivienne, I think the story is incredible and it’s so exciting that the farm is developing and there’s things happening. I just love the fact that the sisters are still involved. You often go back to Paternoster, where your journey began, your life journey, you use it as a timeout, and to remember exactly where you came from? It must make you incredibly proud to go back to Paternoster and realise the path that you’ve been on, and what you’ve been able to achieve.
VK: Yes, it does. There is still so much I would love to do that, yes, the journey just carries on.
What’s still on the cards
BB: Let’s talk about some of the goals. What are you looking to achieve with Seven Sisters? Where are you taking this brand and this business?
VK: Well I would still love to look into other commodities or to further the brand, not only wine. Maybe clothing range, maybe tea, oils, and build onto the brand. That is one thing I would still like to do. The other thing I would still like to establish a 14-bedroom guesthouse on the farm.
So we would have seven normal rooms and seven premium rooms that kind of thing. Yes, just establish it in such a way that not only the children can take it further but anybody who eventually takes over the running of whatever we are establishing here.
That it would just be easy and it could just be there for our grandchildren, and the generation still to come. That’s the idea to really, leave a legacy behind. Something that we were not privileged to have, but our names. Yes, that’s the idea.
BB: Vivienne, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to you today. I really appreciate your time and thank you so much for sharing your story with us and some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome, to get to where you are today.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Seven Sisters. If you want to find out more the website to get to is sevensisters.co.za and we look forward to catching up again soon. Thank you so much. I hope you have a wonderful festive season, and may 2016 be your best year yet.
VK: Thank you so much, have a lovely day. Keep well. Bye.