Newsletter - December 2004

Today’s wine industry is definitely a year-round affair. The increasing competitiveness of the market – locally and internationally – makes it essential that the cellar team remains involved at all times.

Today’s wine industry is definitely a year-round affair. The increasing competitiveness of the market – locally and internationally – makes it essential that the cellar team remains involved at all times. When not working on vineyard tours, they will stay active with blending or bottling of wines. Marketing plays a huge role and everybody must weigh in. And, to top it all, we still have new construction work on the go …

The new identity of Stellenbosch Hills, announced just more than a year ago, is most noticeable in the adjustments to our cellar and on new labels. The labels have been very well received and impacted nicely on the marketplace. The new construction work is nearly finished. It gives us great pleasure to know that Stellenbosch Hills draws positive responses from visitors and guests.

Last month twenty readers of Die Burger newspaper came here for a cellar and wine tour. Most of them we remember from the Vlottenburg days. They were all complimentary about the new face of the cellar, the modern and ample tasting facilities and the label.

The people working here, who spend the most time on the premises, are very well aware of the comfortable space and clean finishes. That makes wine tastings and sales more pleasant and effective. It creates an altogether positive impression. But to hear this confirmed by our visitors, proves that Stellenbosch Hills is on the right track.

With thousands of visitors due to come to the Stellenbosch winelands during the holiday season, we are expecting a steady stream of people at Stellenbosch Hills. Thanks to the new facilities, the cellar seems poised to become one of the region’s most popular destinations.

Beautiful places certainly do not ensure business if the quality of wines are not up to standard. The entire Stellenbosch Hills family deserve credit for the good coverage we received in the most recent John Platter Guide.

Our new wine, the 1707 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, received four and a half stars, the highest rating for any wine in the guide. Everybody seems most pleased about this, since we all know that it is no game to ensure the successful introduction to the market of a new wine in a portfolio. The decision to add a flagship to our range has been a fruitful one and the quality of the wine emphasises the quality of the grapes our members have on their farms. It also justifies the decision by the board to expand our investment in vats.

The 2002 and 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon of Stellenbosch Hills, as well as the 2002 and 2001 Merlot and the Muscat de Hambourg, all received four Platter stars. On the white side, our 2004 Chardonnay received a solid three and a half stars.

These awards in South Africa’s foremost wine guide speaks volumes about our flow towards achieving our main aim – to supply quality wines at good prices, the two central tenets of our philosophy.

Things are also moving abroad where our agent, Baarsma, achieved solid progress in the European market. The name Stellenbosch Hills seems to be a winner, because it is after all a privilege to add the country’s best know wine region to your name (not to mention it being a clever tactical move!)

Despite worries in the industry in August and September about the drought, the heavens opened up in October. Wine-farmers had full dams and good grape coverage in the vines and this wonderful situation made this wine-farmer and manager feel like a Springbok coach with an embarrassment of riches on the bench: How are we going to choose the best grapes to make even better wines from the good supply? Thanks to our vineyard consultant and the farming practices of our members we will be able to implement sound management of our vines to ensure a quality harvest for next season.

Clearly there are always new activities in the wine industry. The intensive process of vineyard management is hardly finished before we have to move into the January vintage time.

But come and see for yourself. Come and taste our wines. It is always good day for a good wine at Stellenbosch Hills.

PG Slabbert
Cellarmaster and Manager

Stellenbosch Hills Wines