Riebeek Valley Wine Partners (Pty) Ltd launched the Riebeek Valley’s first wine empowerment action when they planted their first 15 HA of Sauvignon Blanc on 2 September 2004.
This combined initiative of Riebeek Cellars, producers, farm and cellar workers from the Riebeek Valley with a shareholding of 20%-40%-40%, entails a wine farm that will be cultivated for commercial means.
Initially 150 farm and cellar workers are involved. With government financing and the capital support of producers, as well as their knowledge and experience of wine farming, the idea is to develop the farm into a self-sufficient and profitable unit. Eventually producer’s shares will be withdrawn and made available for further empowerment until the total producer’s shareholding is empowered.
Riebeek Cellars with a 20% shareholding serves as the production and marketing leg of the project and the wine will be released under the label, “Partnership”.
The farm, Highlands, now called Partnership Vineyards, is located 8km outside Malmesbury and offers a superb wine farming opportunity with above-average soil potential. The excited new shareholders and other interested parties that attended the launch were all positive about the promise this fertile land keeps for empowerment and co-operation in the Riebeek Valley.
Since planting the first vineyards in 2004, the Partnership Vineyards project has grown from a dream and a few vines planted in the promising soil of the farm Highlands, to the reality of a commercial farm cultivating wine grapes.
More than growing some of the best quality fruit in the Swartland area, the farm has realized the dreams and longings of many of the people living and working in the Riebeek Valley and surrounds.
The Riebeek Valley, with the twin towns of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, a mere hour’s drive from Cape Town is well known for its quality wines and olives and over the past ten years became a quality lifestyle hot spot for locals and tourists alike. Open minds and forward thinkers are readily found in the Riebeek Valley and they identified that while the quality lifestyle is responsible for making the valley famous, the honest hard work of many people in the valley have never been rewarded by the same quality of life.
The concept of Partnership Vineyards was born and today 151 previously disadvantaged people from the Riebeek Valley are partners in the farm which will not only pay them dividends the moment the project becomes profitable, but will also give them ownership of land and their piece of Africa. Shares in Partnership Vineyards can be bequeathed but cannot be sold.
Many similar projects have been initiated in South Africa and many of those have failed.Partnership Vineyards is very proud to see this project grow and becoming self sufficient. The 2010 harvest saw plantings of mainly Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, with smaller areas under Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Grenache.
The Partnership Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz were bottled, labeled and released to the international market during early 2010. The wine will initially be available to the American, Canadian and British markets, but will soon be extended to other markets like Europe.
Amelia Heynse is married to Jan Heynse, one of the partners in Partnership Vineyards. Jan grew up on the farm Kloovenburg in Riebeek Kasteel and has been working therefor 25 years. Jan, Amelia and their three girls, Kay-Louise, Janine and Joline live in“Bob’s House” (named after an old guy called Bob, who lived there for many years) on the slopes of Kasteelberg mountain. They have the most spectacular view of the Riebeek Valley and see the sun rising over the vineyards and olive groves every morning.
With Jan working on the farm and the three daughters in school, Amelia has a career of her own. Renowned for baking the best cheesecake in the Riebeek Valley and now working at the local Fish shop, Amelia has definite culinary talents.
Being part of Partnership Vineyards means that after growing up on a farm and making his livelihood from agriculture, Jan and his family now own their own piece of land that can stay in their family forever.
Raised in the small town of Piketberg a stone’s throw from the Riebeek Valley, Christo Somers is a born and bred Swartlander. The Swartland is known as the bread basket of South Africa as it is a major grain producing area, but farming with fruit, wine grapes and olives contributes greatly to the local economy and Christo decided to focus on the wine industry.
Christo manages the Riebeek Cellars laboratory, serves as the Quality Control Officer at the winery and is responsible for food safety programs.
Being a partner in Partnership Vineyards is something Christo has never expected, but it definitely adds meaning to his life and he is very much involved in Partners, the joint body managing Partnership Vineyards.
With his family and baby girl still living in Piketberg, Christo is very focused on his career during the week while weekends are spent with his family and playing cricket for the local club.
Karools Pietersen is chairman of the empowerment company, Partners, and a board member of Partnership Vineyards.
Karools worked with wine grapes on the farm Dagbreek, just outside of Riebeek Kasteel, for his whole career until he retired a few years ago. Living in Riebeek Kasteel with his wife, Maria, they relish having some quiet time and enjoy the company of their two grandsons. Despite taking it slower, Karools is adamant that being part of the Partnership project keeps his mind and body in shape and he wakes up in the mornings excited about the future for his family.
Very much involved in the community, Karools serves on the church council as the leading elder with his wife supporting him all the way. Their children are all grown up and their son, André, works at Riebeek Cellars. He shares his father’s interest and love for the wine industry.
Karools always had a secret dream of having an own business or own concern and today, he has this in Partnership Vineyards. Involved in all levels of Partnership Vineyards, Karools is excited about using his knowledge of years of grape growing, but also about learning more about the business and the strategic ways of thinking that are required from a board member.
Kariem de Bruyn grew up in the Riebeek Valley and started as wine packer at Riebeek Cellars in 2004. Hard work and extra studies have served him well and today he is responsible for the export logistics – a job requiring long hours in a high pressure environment.
Being a partner in Partnership Vineyards has added a new dimension to Kariem’s life. Not only can he bequeath his shares to his beautiful 4-year old daughter, Keandre, but as soon as the dividends are being paid out, he will be saving for future studies in Logistics and Freight Forwarding.
Although his aim has always been to become self sufficient and successful to ensure a future for Angela and Keandre, through the Partnership project, his dreams are now becoming a reality.