COVID, Harvest and 50 year Celebrations: an interview with Simonsig Wine Estate

Back home, the SA government has once again banned the sale of alcohol making it an extremely challenging time for our wine farms.  

Co-founder Megan Kritzinger caught up with Charl Schoeman (Winemaker) and Lize-Marié Gradwell (International Sales Manager) of Simonsig Wines to understand the impact its had on their business operations.  Thankfully its not all doom and gloom - we also got a sneak peak into this years Harvest and their 50th Year Celebration of the original Kaapse Vonkel Cap Classique! Cheers to that! 

MK: What impact has COVID had on Simonsig?

LM: Like so many other wine farms in SA,  Simonsig had to make many difficult decisions over the last 10 months. After 10 years Cuvee restaurant had to close which affected staff that have been working at Simonsig for many years. Some of them could be accommodated in the cellar, but unfortunately some lost their jobs. We had to direct our efforts to online and e-commerce. Salary sacrifices were implemented and we had to reshuffle roles and responsibilities. It has also “forced” us to do some serious releftion on how we have done things in the past and make sure we are more adaptable to future change. This has also brought some new opportunities like virtual tastings and engaging with our consumers through social media and e-commerce.

MK: How has the 2021 harvest going?

CS: We are super excited for the 2021 harvest season which will kick off with Pinot noir from Stellenbosch in the second half of January. Ample winter rainfall resulted in excellent soil water levels and very happy grapevines. Cooler conditions during early spring resulted in a slightly later start to the growing season and therefore harvest season looks to be about 10 days later than the pervious vintage. We are expecting a slightly smaller crop than 2020, but smaller crop usually means excellent flavour and concentration. All signs are pointing toward superb quality we have no excuse not to make top quality wines. This is the 50 year celebration for Kaapse Vonkel and Cap Classique so we will do everything we can to make it the best vintage yet.  

MK:What we can look forward to from the 2021 vintages?

CS: It is still early days, but all signs are pointing toward a potentially stellar vintage for Cap Classique, white and red wines. Obviously we need to overcome the many challenges posed by the pandemic. The 2021 vintage comes at a time when our wine industry is facing it’s toughest period yet, but if we can stay positive and focus on the task at hand we can reach the other side stonger than ever. There is a good atmosphere and quite optimism in the cellar. We are all more determined than ever to make the 50 year celebration of Kaapse Vonkel a spectacular one. Only time will tell...

MK: It’s been 50 years since the first Kaapse Vonkel was popped open! What exciting plans can we expect from Simonsig this year? 

LM: Watch this space! We will be celebrating 50 years with something exciting, but unfortunately the local ban has delayed this until the 15th of Feb.

MK: How can our UK customers support Simonsig while travel and alcohol sales in SA is restricted?

LM: Very easy.. please buy our wines online! Follow us on Instagram and spread the word to family and friends . #SaveSaWine #DrinkSouthAfrican




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