Tributes have been pouring in to Graham Beck, one of the pioneers of the modern South African wine industry, who has died at the age of 80.
Beck, a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, died on Tuesday morning in London with his wife Rhona at his side, after a battle with lung cancer.
Following an early involvement in renovations, he spent 15 years working in the mining industry, before buying a stud farm in Robertson in 1976 – and then entering the wine business with the purchase of Madeba farm in 1983.
A constant champion of Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wines, Graham Beck Wines became a substantial business with the purchase of properties in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
Beck held a 50% stake in the original Douglas Green Bellingham business, before buying it outright and then selling it to the management in 2006, and his last wine investment was the acquisition of Steenberg Wines and hotel in 2005.
Beck said his greatest achievement was to ‘give employment to thousands of people, and that this has enabled them to better their lives’.
The Becks set up the Graham and Rhona Beck Skills Centre in Robertson last year, a skills development project which forms part of a larger social development programme.
The Graham Beck Wines Facebook page has been inundated with messages of condolence – one describing Beck as ‘a great loss to the wine industry’, and another saying: ‘South Africa misses your warmth, care and integrity.’