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Mar 09 2009

Johann Krige’s big challenge

Published by at 8:57 am under Opinion,Top Stories

Johann Krige, co-owner of Kanonkop, the successful red wine farm outside Stellenbosch, was elected chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the organisation tasked to grow SA’s wine exports, recently.

His message to the wine industry (published on the WOSA website) is worth a read for all the milestones reached and records broken in the past 15 years. But, the message is especially important for its reference to the “big cancer” (my description) dragging on this great industry, namely the players’ (wine farmers’) cronic inability to stand together, to pull in the same direction and make industry-wide decisions. 

Instead, it’s a case of 100 wine farmers, 101 opinions. South Africa’s farming community has suffered from “overdone individualism” ever since Jan van Riebeeck came to the Cape and farmers started settling ever further away from the government seat of the day. Today the wine farmers of the Cape are just as hot on their freedom and independence as those farmers had been in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

The best one-sentence description of the modern-day Cape wine farmer still is: “Why be difficult, if one can be plain impossible?”

All good and fine – a free spirit has always been a beautiful thing. But, not in the day and age we live in. Today this characteristic is misplaced – a burden to the industry. 

I think it was brave of Johann to allude to this “cancer” in his chairman’s address. And hold thumbs he manages to bring the industry together and get it to work as one. At least on one issue, namely exports.

Read earlier articles of mine on this topic here.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Johann Krige’s big challenge”

  1. Christoon 17 Mar 2009 at 9:05 pm

    On 20 January about 100 Cape wine makers met to discuss the parameters for the formation of USAPA, a new producer body for the marketing of wines in the US. At the meeting it was agreed to co-operate with WOSA. USAPA will operate independently of WOSA, but the two bodies will collaborate closely to maximise their efforts.

    Could that have been the first step on a new, cooperative and consensus-driven future for the wine industry? Let’s hope so.

    USAPA hopes to collect $500,000 with membership fees and a percentage of the FOB revenue generated by producers in the US, to spend on marketing in its first year.

    WOSA has about $350,000 in its budget. The sad truth is: Even if the two budgets were merged and all money spent on the US market, it would not do much in the line of awareness-building in the near future – and the farmers hope to increase their exports to the US quickly.

    Read what Germany spends annually – and for how long they’ve been at it.

    Extra money will have to be found somewhere.

    Christo

  2. adminon 17 Mar 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I must repeat my concerns here about the name USAPA: It’s inappropriate and (if I may be so naughty) smacks of a lack of marketing “intuition”. All the more so, since the body must focus on the US market. Why? Because there are already seven bodies/organisations in the US operating under the acronym USAPA. Look here. With that name, confusion will be pre-programmed.

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