Category Archives: Branding

2011: The more things change

Looking back at the past year it is evident that the South African wine industry has seen many changes, controversies and closures but it is important for us to look ahead to the positives that the New Year brings. As stated by Deepak Chopra “All great changes are preceded by chaos”.

This year was not short on controversy, with the most notable of which being the Coffee / Caffeine Pinotage debacle and media onslaught after the University of Pretoria found high levels of caffeine in a few of the coffee Pinotage wines tested in their laboratory. The information was published as a letter in the Sunday Times on the 7th of August. After the publication everyone from WOSA to Harry HaddonNeil PendockOrielle Berry and Cathy Marston commented on the findings.

Another controversial topic that ignited debate in the wine industry was the release of a 96 page report titled “Ripe with Abuse: Human Rights Conditions in South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Industries” by an international company called Human Rights Watch. Once again the online media was abuzz with commentary from WOSAVinpro and Fairtrade SA.

The Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge saw its third year with popular favourites Stellenbosch University failing to impress the judges and losing their undefeated two year champion status to arch rivals UCT. Also in its third year, the Nedbank Green Wine Awards saw a significant decline in the number of entries from the previous two years. The decline could be attributed to a number of reasons, such as the competition’s new home at Getaway Magazine or the fact that it remains a niche market.

2011 was a bumper year for wine festivals with many established festivals standing strong despite a decline in interest (such as WineX Cape Town) and others joining the party for the first time such as the debut Gugulethu Wine Festival. Though there was not a lot of interest from the producers (with less than twenty in attendance), those that did choose to attend were greeted by many eager locals keen to learn more about wine. Every wine journalist and blogger that could attend did and Neil Pendock and Cathy Marston (amongst many) thoroughly enjoyed the festival.

Though there seemed to be a wine festival every weekend, some managed to attract more attention than others. The second Swartland Revolution proved that the ‘cult’ status of the wines from this region is not for nothing. The weekend saw 250 people of a great diversity from across South Africa (and beyond) converge on the small town of Riebeek Kasteel with only one thing on their minds: wine. The well organised and punctual festival was well worth the money as the tutored tastings added value to what could’ve ended up being only a party.

With the world still trying to recover from the economic recession that shows no sign of letting up any time soon, the wine industry has had to adapt to the situation it finds itself in. The industry has subsequently seen a lot of change in the past year. From wineries finding new owners such as Klein Constantia and Mulderbosch to wineries going under the hammer likeQuoin Rock, there has been quite a bit of shuffling around.

Even the two biggest South African Wine Auctions decided to take on new directions. The 37th Nederburg Auction saw a fresh new look and feel with a comprehensive online strategy that stretched across Social Media platforms and a new website. The Cape Winemakers Guild also announced this year that they have introduced new selection criteria to encourage creativity and diversity amongst the wines from their members. This year’s public tasting already showcased some of the guild members’ more unique offerings which indicated that the members had already started experimenting before the announcement was made. This year the CWG Auction also boasted a record turn over of R5 286 700 (up by R1.4 million year on year) indicating that the updated criteria has stimulated some renewed interest.

2011 also saw the last printed publication of WINE Magazine in September and with many other printed publications going the way of the dodo, it is great to know that at least there is an online South African Wine Magazine in the form of Michael Oliver’s Crush!Crush! was also recently shortlisted as one of six finalists in the “Food and Drink Magazine of the Year” category of the 2011 Digital Magazine Awards. Crush! is also the only South African publication to be nominated.

WINE.CO.ZA saw a few big changes this year, with the move to our new offices in April where our entire team and warehouse is housed under one roof. Judy Brower and Kevin Kidson took a three month sabbatical shortly after the move. The team were left to their own devices but managed hold down the fort till Kevin and Judy’s return from Europe.

This year also saw the addition of two new members to the team. Mart-Mari du Preez joined the online shop in February and proved to be not only great at sales and logistics (our online wine shop continues to grow) but also a budding writer/blogger and wine enthusiast. 

Carla van der Merwe took over as WineNews Editor in April and Social Media maven in August, proving she can multi-task like the best of them. WINE.CO.ZA managed to reach several milestones with our Social Media this year with Dusan Jelic managing to get first 1000 and then 2000 Twitter followers while Carla brought the total up to 3000 in November. Our newsletter subscriptions also increased by roughly 1000 new subscribers this year.

WINE.CO.ZA strives to be constantly ahead of trends and embraces new technology, having released free QR-codes for South African wines in September and spotlight focus areas for our Global Partners and Partners in November.

Since the launch of our new website development option in July 2010 our entrepid developer, Garth Hapgood-Strickland, has developed 40 new websites for our clients. Some of the wineries that the sites were designed for include BadsbergBramptonDeWaal Wines,ExcelsiorKen ForresterKleine DrakenLourensfordMiddelvleiRaats Family WinesRaka WinesRidgeback WinesRooiberg WinesRuderaRustenberg WinesSteenberg Vineyards and Waterstone.

Here’s to a festive season filled with good wine, great conversation and amazing memories!

This article was first published on WINE.CO.ZA, please click here to see the original article.


T-time with Ken Forrester

It’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to be in the company of an iconic winemaker such as Ken Forrester, and therefore I was quite elated at the invitation to spend the afternoon with a group of journalists having ‘T’ at the Mount Nelson.

The story of the Ken Forrester ‘T’ is an interesting one, as this Noble Late Harvest came about as a birthday gift for Ken’s wife Teresa in 1998. Sadly the first vintage of the wine was never produced.

The current vintage, the 2009 T Noble Late Harvest, therefore marks a decade of the wine’s existence and was the reason for celebrating at the Mount Nelson.

The ‘T’ is produced from a single vineyard Chenin blanc block on the estate and is very labour intensive to produce as many successive pickings (except for the 2001 and 2009 vintage) are done throughout the harvesting period. Ken notes that the picking starts at the end of February “when the botrytis starts to form a ring in the center of the grape” and has continued as late as the end of May in previous vintages.

The production techniques that are used to produce the ‘T’ are very intricate and labour intensive as only 40kg of grapes are pressed at a time in a 400kg press. The wine then gets placed in a large 4000 liter barrel where it is allowed to start fermenting before being showered with dry ice.

The start-stop process of fermentation allows for layers of complex flavours to form as a result of the layers of multiple wild yeast at work. This tireless process does not always yield positive results as it is a bit of gamble, and as Ken muses “this is the kind of wine, that if you were to make it for a boss, you’d get fired as it’s an all or nothing wine”.

After understanding the process of production in the wine, we were all treated to a veritical tasting of six vintages of the ‘T’ from 2000 to 2009.

We started our tasting with the youngest of the lot and worked our way back:

2009 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest

Alcohol % – 12
Total Acidity (g/l) – 7.7
Residual Sugar (g/l) – 135.8
Ph – 3.61

On the 2009 vintage Ken noted that it (along with the 2001) was a great year for Chenin Blanc in South Africa with favourable conditions for botrytis similar to that of the Loire Valley.

The 2009 was very fresh with guava and baked apple characteristics.

2008 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest

Alcohol % – 11
Total Acidity (g/l) – 7.8
Residual Sugar (g/l) – 154
Ph – 3.54

The 2008 vintage was never released due to limited quantity.

The flavour profile was very similar to the 2009 with the bit of bottle aging aiding in the wine opening up with a fuller fruit component. With characteristics of honey, apricot and baked apple.

2006 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest

Alcohol % – 13
Total Acidity (g/l) – 7.8
Residual Sugar (g/l) – 137
Ph – 3.68

The 2006 vintage had started to develop the deeper honey colour and was quite a developed wine, though it had no cloying or stickiness.

The bouquet was one of biscuits, caramel and vanilla with the taste resembling that of ruby grapefruit, with the sweetness and acidity in balance.

2005 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest

Alcohol % – 13
Total Acidity (g/l) – 7.8
Residual Sugar (g/l) – 137
Ph – 3.68

The 2005 vintage was beautifully fresh with a screaming acidity and the colour only just starting to set into a rust coloured hue. Ken admitted that the 2005 vintage was currently his favourite.

2001 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest

Alcohol % – 13.51
Total Acidity (g/l) – 8.2
Residual Sugar (g/l) – 132.2
Ph – 3.53

The 2001 vintage was a perfect year for noble as their was an early onset of botrytis which resulted in only one picking of the single vineyard. The quality of botrytis was also similar to that found in the Loire which made this vintage a stand out year. The colour on the 2001 vintage was also much lighter than it’s younger 2005 and 2006 counterparts.

2000 Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest

Alcohol % – 13.2
Total Acidity (g/l) – 8.0
Residual Sugar (g/l) – 131.7
Ph – 3.53

The 2000 vintage was a very hot year which resulted in over ripe fruit and therefore a very sticky and sweet noble. The colour was also extremely dark on this vintage with the defining characteristics being treacle and molasses extract on the nose and burnt / caramelised apple on the pallet.

The distinguishing differences in each of the six vintages that we tasted just further proved the significance that varying vintage conditions have the wine that is produced, especially when the wine is made from a single vineyard.

The beauty of each bottle of wine is found in the fact that it is the photograph of a vintage.

This article was first published as a blog post on WINE.CO.ZA, please click here to see the original article.

Hello Kitty Wines

Hello Kitty has elected to label a range of wines from Italy with their signature mascot. The Italian farm in question producing this new range of wines is boutique Italian winery Torti Tenimenti Castelrotto based in the Lombardy region. The range sports cutesy names such as Sweet Pink, Devil Red, Angel White and a Brut Rosé.

Each wine boasts the slogan “Our favourite girl has grown up”, along with hers truly in a differently themed outfit on each bottle. The sparkling wine even boasts a Hello Kitty pendant with an Italian flag coloured ribbon in tow.

When I happend upon this while surfing the net, I couldn’t help but be a little appalled. The whole notion of linking my pink childhood companion to an alcoholic beverage was disturbing. Until I took a step back and looked at the new venture from a marketing perspective.

The Hello Kitty brand has been around for over 35 years and just as I was; it too was forced to grow up. Though the Hello Kitty brand is still going strong, it has had to create brand extensions into adult products through leveraging on pre-existing brand knowledge. This new route that the brand has chosen to pursue is wholly focused on nostalgia. The kids of yester year who refuse to believe that they have grown up are definitely the marketing team’s prime target market.

I still can’t help but wonder whether creating this new brand association between the Hello Kitty brand and wine won’t ultimately harm the brand.

Though there are very positive advantages to brand extension, such as improving the odds of success for the new product, there is also one major disadvantage – brand dilution.

Brand dilution occurs when consumers no longer associate a brand [Hello Kitty] with a specific product [children’s toys] or highly similar products and start thinking less of the brand. (Kotler & Keller, 2006:44)

So in closing, this new marketing venture can turn out to either be yet another success for the cash cow that is the Hello Kitty brand or it could be disastrous. All I know for sure is that it tugs on my childhood memories and I definitely want to buy some.

For stockists (unfortunately mostly American), please click here.


Kotler, P. and Keller, K.L. 2006. Marketing Management. 12th edition. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey.

Keller, K.L. 2003. Strategic Brand Management. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey.

Keller, K.L. Brand Synthesis: The Multidimensionality of Brand Knowledge. 2003. Journal of Consumer Research. Vol. 29

L. A. Weekly



Personal Money Store

Serious Seats

A Champagne tribute to Andy Warhol

French champagne house Moët et Chandon, most famously known for their premium Dom Pérignon brand, has announced that they will be releasing a limited edition series of bottles in honour of American Pop Art icon Andy Warhol.

This co-branding exercise will merge two conflicting ideas of luxury and popular culture, to create a very vibrant and colourful range of champagne bottles.

Andy Warhol’s alternative take on art resulted in his quirky style that blurred the lines between popular culture and traditional art. Warhol’s out of the box thinking resulted in his signature silk-screen style, which was used as inspiration in the design of the tribute Dom Pérignon bottles and packaging.

The collection of bottles are from the 2000 vintage of Dom Pérignon and are the result of a collaboration between the Andy Warhol Foundation, Dom Pérignon and the artistic talents of the Design Laboratory at Central St. Martin’s School of Art and Design.

The range includes bottles in blue, red, violet, emerald-green, lilac and yellow. The six colours that were selected also pay homage to Warhol’s distinct colour palette and succeed promoting his dream of making the world an ever more vibrant place.

The range will only be available in October, in limited quantities at roughly R1200 ($150) a bottle so keep your eyes peeled in stores or order it online to ensure yourself a piece of luxurious popular culture.

There is also a promotional video on, click here to check it out.

Tips and ideas on how to improve your personal brand

Peter Montoya, author of The Brand Called You, defines personal branding as a personal identity that stimulates precise, meaningful perceptions in its audience about the values and qualities that person stands for.

It is important in our day and age to build and foster a positive personal brand as it is very easy for potential employers (and even partners) to find out information about us online, on sites such as Facebook.

Therefore we need to create a personal brand which plays to our strengths and portrays us as we would like to be seen, not the way that the random amalgamation of Facebook pictures presents us.

Nitish Bhalotia presents a personal branding pyramid in her essay titled, Personal Branding: Me Inc, which gives the following four steps in how to create a personal brand.

Step 1Determine who you are

The first thing to do is to start thinking of yourself as a brand. You are the marketer of your own brand, so sit down and identify your biggest strengths and most noteworthy personality traits. Determine your unique selling point by defining what it is that makes you out of the ordinary.

Step 2 – Determine what you do

Personal branding is not applying an attractive mask; it is understanding what ones values are and learning to make these values relevant to other people. Much of developing a personal brand centres on identifying personal values. (Bhalotia, 2004)

Step 3 – Position Yourself

Identify the qualities and characteristics that make you distinctively different from your friends, classmates or colleagues and use these to position yourself in the job market place.

Step 4 – Manage and market your brand

Tom Peters explained in an article in Fast Company, that for most branding campaigns, the first step is visibility and that as the marketer for brand You, you have to achieve visibility with no budget. He continues that the key to any personal branding campaign is word-of-mouth marketing.

The way in which to achieve great visibility with no budget through word-of-mouth advertising is to strike online. The best way to market yourself is through creating a blog about what you love. For tips on how to create a blog that speaks volumes check out my post titled What the Blog. Then advertise your blog on Facebook to your friends and family to build a loyal following.

I hope that these tips help you on your way to a building an effective personal brand. For more tips on how to create your personal brand, have a look at the following articles which I referenced in my post:

Bhalotia, N. 2004. Personal branding (Me Inc.) 

Peters, T. 1997. The Brand Called You. (to view the article click here)

The importance of personal branding – lessons from an icon

Everyone irrespective of their age, race, sex, business sector or position should know and understand the concept of branding and its importance and implications in all undertakings of our and any society.

Timothy Maurice Webster, inspirational speaker and international award winning leader, states (in Leadership magazine) that personal branding allows people to develop a platform for their value system that works for them in order to communicate who they are and what they stand for.

Webster continues that an iconic example of a salesperson that successfully created and promoted their personal brand is that of former South African president Nelson Mandela. Webster explains that during his presidency Mandela was a fierce negotiator and that his values were mirrored in his well-tailored and crisp image.

Richard Stengel, TIME magazine’s managing editor, wrote an article on Nelson Mandela in the July 2008 edition of the magazine in celebration of Madiba’s birthday. The article listed Mandela’s eight lessons of leadership as interpreted by Stengel. These so-called “Madiba’s rules” were the guidelines by which Mandela lived and ran his presidency. He employed these guidelines to create (and later cultivate) his personal brand.

In the article Stengel states that the eight rules were “cobbled together from conversations [with Mandela] and from observing him up close and from afar”. Stengel then continues to say that they [the rules] are mostly practical and stem directly from Mandela’s personal experiences.

Rule #1 – Courage is not the absence of fear; it is inspiring others to move beyond it.

Rule #2 – Lead from the front – but don’t leave your base behind

Rule #3 – Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front

Rule #4 – Know your enemy – and learn from his favourite sport

Rule #5 – Keep your friends close – and your rivals even closer

Rule #6 – Appearances matter – and remember to smile

Rule #7 – Nothing is black or white

Rule #8 – Quitting is leading too

As Webster stated in his article, Mandela new how to create and nurture his brand he new that “a good suit represents armour and is a form of business and political protection from prejudice”. Mandela knew that in order to be taken seriously as a black man in apartheid South Africa, he needed to look the part and he therefore chose to wear suits every day of his political career.

Therefore in summary, the key to personal branding lies in the embodiment of the brand. This is something that Mandela knew very well and it is exactly this mindset which lead to the success of his unfaltering personal brand. In conclusion, to borrow a few words from Webster “his [Mandela] brand was, and is, a story that inspires transformation, and he began by transforming himself internally and externally.


Stengel, R. 2008, July 21. Mandela: His 8 Lessons of Leadership. TIME magazine. (Pages 22 – 28) available online at

Webster, T.M. 2010, March. Inspire, engage and provide an example. Leadership Magazine. Edition 302. (Pages 26 – 28) available online at