Q&a

Food & Home - - Drink Up -

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.

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