Well, this is undoubtedly the toughest time I can remember in the South African wine industry. Not only have we been banned from selling wine in South Africa, but this has resulted in a wonderful opportunity for criminals to try and steal from wineries and sell their stolen goods on the black market. Last week our neighbours were robbed twice and last Friday night we were targeted. Here is what happened with a bit of background.
Above is a picture of our senior winemaker Matthew Copeland, his father-in-law Monty Nel, wife Yolandi, and sons Joshua and Henry. Monty arrived at Vondeling last year from Limpopo and asked if he could stay in one of the staff houses on Vondeling to be near his daughter and grandsons while he looked for somewhere to move permanently. During this time, crime became very bad on the farms in the Paarl/Paardeberg area and the local security firms were battling. I asked Monty if he would be interested in joining George Alkastar (previous farm manager on Klein Vondeling) to run our security here at night. His career had been as a 2-way radio and camera specialist down the mines and he could help protect us and his family. He accepted immediately.
We have placed security cameras all over the 3 Vondeling farms and Monty and George are based in our offices all night, watching the screens and occasionally driving around. On Saturday morning, 8th May at 12.50 am, Monty was on duty alone and he spotted 5 intruders closing in on the Vondeling tasting room and cellar on St Clement across the road. He phoned Magnus, our Farm Manager, who picked up and then the local Farm watch and Vetus Schola the local security firm.
Magnus was first on the scene, followed by Monty, but unfortunately, the intruders, wearing face masks, escaped into the night in a waiting car on the dirt road about 1 km away. The police were alerted, but could not intercept. Monty and Magnus had saved the day and we are all extremely grateful. Since the lockdown, 5 wineries in our local area have been targeted.
Moving on to wine, our award-winning Vondeling Bowwood Pinotage 2016, is nearly out of stock (54 cases of 6 remain as I write) and we will be keeping 30 for our library stock, so it’s the last chance to get some of this Absa top 10 Pinotage. A truly delicious and unique wine.
We have been busy on the farm, deep subsoiling (ripping) with a D9 Caterpillar in preparation of planting some orchards this winter.
After deep ploughing, we have to mark out our blocks and make sure we get our lines straight!
Stay safe and well,
Julian and Bridget