Mike Ratcliffe is the co-founder and wine-growing partner at Vilafonté, a joint American and South African wine venture. “Vilafonté was conceived in 1995 as an opportunity to curate South African terroir – the oldest soils in the world – and partner South African excellence with Californian wine-growing expertise,” Mike explains. Apart from his role at Vilafonté, Mike is also the founding trustee of the Cape Wine Auction and the chairman of the Stellenbosch Wine Route. A family man, he has two daughters with his wife, Pippa.
VILAFONTÉ… WHAT INSPIRED THE NAME?
Vilafonté is the name of the soil on our property, which is the ground zero of all our efforts and our ‘secret sauce’. We have built a reputation on the hand-crafted quality of our wines, and we have always felt our positioning reflects our belief: that people who are respectful of quality will always recognise value.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE AN INVESTMENT WINE? Investment wines are generally from a prestigious producer who has a proven track record of developing wines that can age and improve over time, and that have a documented history of increasing in value. Investment wines are usually produced in meaningful volumes that allow them to achieve significance.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO START A FINE-WINE COLLECTION?
First, identify your objectives – I would recommend a combination of wines for investment and immediate consumption, but keep them separate. Investment wines should also be stored securely and professionally through a company like Wine Cellar, and should be insured.
IS THERE A POSSIBILITY OF EVER TRADING SOUTH AFRICAN WINES AS INVESTMENTS?
South Africa’s fine-wine investment landscape changed dramatically in 2018 with the launch of two wine investment funds: the Fine Diamond Wine Investment Fund and the Wine Cellar’s 2018 Alternate Investment Portfolio. Both funds are based on trading the greatest South African wines and are worth considering.