Beyerskloof embraces black empowerment

Beyerskloof black empowerment South Africa News Wine News
  • Monday 24 November 2003

South African vintner Beyers Truter and his partners have sold three-quarters of their stake in a Stellenbosch winery to their farm workers.

Truter, owner and winemaker of the Beyerskloof winery and Simon Halliday, managing director of Raisin Social and co-owner of Beyerskloof, have sold 74% of their stake in Bouwland winery to the Bouwland Deelnemingstrust (Bouwland Trust), which represents a total of 60 people from 39 families.

Farm workers from Beyerskloof, Bouwland, and two other significant wineries, Kanonkop and Uiterwyk, are taking part in the scheme, worth almost R10m (around €1.3m).

‘This is a fantastic opportunity for the farm workers to become an integral part of Bouwland’, said Truter. ‘They are a key part of the industry. Many of the trustees have grown up on prime wine farms and are specialists in vineyard cultivation. They now have a vested interest in the estate’.

Simon Halliday said, ‘This is not simply a question of giving the workers a piece of land. This is about ownership. It is not a short-term project.’

Bouwland Deelnemingstrust chairman – and Bouwland director - Jan Hendriks said, ‘We have worked for somebody else for most of our lives but now there is a sense of pride in working for ourselves.’

The scheme is supported by government land redistribution agencies to the tune of R3.7m (around €500,000) and Absa, a bank which plays a large part in agricultural empowerment, has loaned R3.5m.

The Bouwland estate is planted with 56ha of vines, including Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet Franc and Shiraz will be planted soon.

Under apartheid and later, South Africa’s notorious labour policies included the ‘tot’ sytem, whereby workers were given wine in lieu of pay as a form of labour control. A 1997 government publication said, ‘The “tot” system is still widespread on the wine and other farms of the Western and Northern Cape today.’

Currently less than 1% of South African wineries are under black ownership. The South African Wine Industry Trust (SAWIT), supported by government and the financial industry, is committed to boosting black ownership in the Cape by at least 10% within five years, rising to 25% by 2010.

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