Seventh heaven in US sales for Seven Sisters
BY THE end of this month more than 5 000 12-bottle cases of Seven Sisters wine will be on their way to the US to stock the shelves of 500 Walmart stores. That’s an achievement many Cape cellars would love to emulate.
For African Roots Wine president and CEO Vivian Kleynhans, it represents a significant achievement and sweet success after years of setbacks and challenges.
The range consists of seven wines, each named after Vivian’s six sisters while her name adorns the sauvignon blanc. The others are Yolanda moscato, Odelia bukettraube, Twena rosé, June merlot, Carol cabernet sauvignon and Dawn pinotage/shiraz.
The Brutus sisters (plus baby brother John) started life at Paternoster but were evicted from their home when their father lost his job with the fisheries. The family had to break up to survive, the children enduring years of hardship, which, rather than causing despair, saw middle sister Vivian develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
Her decision to enter the highly competitive wine world in the new South Africa was a brave one, but even financial support from the SA Wine Industry Trust was not enough. Realising the need for practical knowledge, Vivian enrolled for a year’s course in wine management and marketing at the Univer- sity of Stellenbosch. In 2006 she joined forces with Swartland Winery, a huge co-op with a sound reputation for consistent quality.
Cellarmaster Andries Blake developed the Seven Sisters range with characteristic diligence, from sourcing grapes through winemaking and bottling etc.
Vivian, meanwhile, acquired nine hectares of farmland off the Annandale road outside StellenProgramme.
Today the Seven Sisters farm boasts a cellar, as yet unused, and there are plans for future country dining and wine pairing.
Visitors can call and make a date to taste the range – and a tasting fee of R25 will be refunded on purchase of wines.
Three hectares of chardonnay and two of shiraz are being planted.
A chance meeting with an American wine buyer at the Soweto Wine festival led to a breakthrough into the US industry. It was Vivian’s rosé that took buyer Selena Cuffe’s fancy, leading to a contract with American Airlines which listed Seven Sisters for more than two years in business and first class. Cuffe became Kleynhans’s agent and the arrival of Walmart on our shores led to their buyers ordering for their North American stores.
Locally only Makro is stocking a Seven Sisters wine, the June merlot for just under R50.
But African Roots is moving ahead even while working to penetrate the local market.
Brother John Brutus is studying viticulture and oenology.
In November Vivian Kleynhans will head to the US for an intensive fortnight of roadshows. Her American dream is being realised even as the local one has yet to evolve. ● See www.sevensisters.co.za. Call 071 049 4109 for a tasting.
SIBLING CELEBRATION: The seven Brutus sisters savour time at Paternoster.