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A Fine Investment

Jun 21, 2018 | Featured, Luxury Trends

Where is wine as luxury investment? We asked connoisseur Juliet Cullinan about wine’s status, local brands in particular.

Wine as an asset class saw growth of 11% last year, behind art in top spot, according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII). “Burgundy markets rose 16,5% on the back of more or less insatiable global demand for the top wines, and a series of poor harvests, culminating in the 2016 release, where some communes were down in volume by as much as 70% due to frost damage,” says Wine Owners’ Nick Martin, who compiles the Knight Frank Fine Wine Icons Index for KFLII.

Andrew Gordon, managing director of Private Cellar, which provides a bespoke cellar management service for high-networth collectors, agrees that demand for the top Burgundies is “stronger than ever”, but notes that blue-chip wines from Bordeaux, Italy and California do not linger long.

While South African wine and winemakers have been honoured in the highest international circles, where South Africa excels is in its fruit, food pairing and value for money, says Juliet Cullinan, founder of the Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival. She is particularly excited about the new styles of wine being made by young winemakers.

“These creative winemakers are analysing the fruit flavours, looking at the grapes, the best blends to make, the best cultivars, the best structure… They are thinking wine totally out of the box and creating new styles of wine,” she says.

“There are so many wonderful changes in the industry. The quality since my first year in 1982, when I worked for KWV in Johannesburg and after that in London, has improved and our wines have a depth of fl avour not found internationally. I’m excited about what we have achieved as a wine nation and what is in store.”

Few could dispute that South Africa is producing worldclass wines, yet international investors have their sights on Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Two of the best sources to find what are regarded as local investment wines are the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction and the Nederburg Auction. The former showcases the most exclusive wines produced by some of South Africa’s leading winemakers in small quantities solely for this event, and is open to the public. The Nederburg Auction, which is by invitation only, offers local and international buyers access to rare and sought-after wines from the country’s best vintages, many of which are not available on the open market.


Following the recent Africa Luxury & Wealth Summit in Cape Town, we chatted to Mike Ratcliffe about the philanthropic impact of the Cape Wine Auction (CWA), which this year raised R17,5 million.

Mike is co-founder of the CWA and MD of Warwick and Vilafonté wine estates. All the money raised is distributed via the Cape Wine Auction Trust to 27 beneficiaries that contribute to the education and wellbeing of children in the Winelands. The results are clear.

“Wemmershoek Primary has shown an improvement in its general pass rate over the past two years,” says Mike. “Howard Muller from Meerlust Estate was in Grade 5 at SPARK Lynedoch Primary School last year. In the first term his maths mark was 11%; by the third term this had increased to 61%!”

But it’s not only about what’s happening in the academic environment. The Trust also provides 771 360 meals per year to children at Winelands schools, which has a positive effect on attendance.

TEXT Debbie Hathway PHOTOGRAPHS Shutterstock, supplied

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