Distell launches new company for premium wines

Libertas Vineyards and Estates managing director Kay Nash
Libertas Vineyards and Estates managing director Kay Nash
Image: Supplied

Distell, Africa’s leading wines and spirits producer and marketer, is launching Libertas Vineyards and Estates as a new stand-alone company with ownership of all the premium wine brands.

Libertas Vineyards and Estates managing director Kay Nash said the move was a “significant shift” from Distell’s previous approach where premium wines were managed as a division within the company’s multi-category portfolio.

“We have started the premiumisation journey at all levels in the business from fine wine skills to brands and brand experiences, portfolio structures, ways of working and new collaborations, and global routes to market,” Nash said.

An independent board of directors comprising industry leaders will support real focus on the premium and fine wine category while leveraging the benefit of scale Distell brings in critical parts of the value chain.

The portfolio of brands includes Alto, Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap and Allesverloren and as well as the heritage assets of Chateau Libertas, Zonnebloem and the Tabernacle. The new business will also revitalise the iconic Oude Libertas site which will be the new chosen home for premium wine in Stellenbosch.

The Libertas Vineyards and Estates team envisages the changes will revolutionise how the business operates and contribute to making an impact on a global stage for SA premium wines.

“We are making bold decisions regarding how we operate and compete, and Distell, with their strong wine DNA, are championing the need for a new approach. There is recognition that the category is challenging and inherently complex and requires a specialist focus, different culture and entrepreneurial approach.

“With Nederburg in our portfolio as well as ownership of all our assets we can bring back the focus and build an entrepreneurial culture so critical to success in the category,” Nash said.

First priority, she said, would be to critically review the large portfolio.

“We have eight brands and 40 sub-sub-brands operating in 88 markets globally across 22 grape varietals. The cost of this complexity is significant, and it hinders our ability to focus and support winning propositions.”

It had started to consolidate the secondary production from four sites to a single site at Nederburg to ensure a more efficient supply chain.

Plans include redefining the annual Nederburg Auction as a fine and rare wine platform, and using the historic Oude Libertas site to build a distinctive destination for wine, innovation, learning and craft.