We chat with a cellar each month about their business, what makes them lie awake at night and what gives them hope. “Dare to be true to yourself, the people and the land and leave all better for having been there. It will bear fruit for generations to come,” says Alvi van der Merwe, owner of Alvi’s Drift.
1. Tell us more about Alvi’s Drift?
We are situated at the southernmost tip of the Breede River Valley’s Worcester wine district,
a mere 50 kilometres from the coast, in our wine ward of Scherpenheuwel. In 1928 our founder Albertus Viljoen “Oupa Alvi” van der Merwe acquired a piece of fertile boland farmland on the banks of the Breede River.
Scattered over a network of seven adjoining farms, we cultivate 410 hectares of vineyards. We produce eight exceptional wine ranges across five different price segments – we offer something for every consumer’s taste. Our wine ranges include the popular premium Signature range, premium 221 range and sparkling wines, respective super premium and ultra premium Reserve and Albertus Viljoen ranges with cap classique wines, and finally the Verreaux Pinotage which is part of our luxury Flagship range.
Alvi’s Drift wines are available in all leading South African supermarkets and liquor outlets, which represent 85% of our sales, and 15% of our wines are exported to more than 25 countries globally.
Apart from our vineyard and wine focus, we also export citrus and sell dairy products under alternative business entities. Because we are a multi-agricultural business, we have a broad range of staff on the farm, but the admin division, cellar and warehouse alone employ close to 26 people.
At Alvi’s Drift we’re committed to enriching people’s enjoyment of what truly matters – inspiring more spontaneous connections and memorable moments. We strive to break barriers, we believe in the power of your will, not your won’t, and in making our way instead of just finding it. That’s why you’ll never find us doing what’s expected – we’re too busy doing what we love.
2. What lessons have you learned over the past few challenging years?
What we have learnt is that we have a loyal, interactive and real following. We reached out in our need and were touched, not by “consumers” but by thousands of real, live and invested people with their own stories, needs and desires who wanted to engage and help.
We will never forget the support we received over the last few years and this has driven us to work even harder to provide the best quality wine to enrich peoples enjoyment of what truly matters.
We have enhanced our ability to interact directly with our friends and made changes to accommodate a vastly more interactive and demanding online marketplace. In all of this, we have not lost sight of retail stores and the dedicated and passionate retailers who supported us as we grew and are able to get our products to a growing number of supporters at vastly more competitive rates – allowing us to provide great wines at good prices across the country.
3. What makes your region special in terms of terroir?
Blessed with an ideal Mediterranean microclimate, the cooling night-time Atlantic Ocean breeze, diverse topography and soil types, as well as an abundance of water, Alvi’s Drift’s vineyards are ideally positioned for producing remarkable wines of singular, fruit-driven character and complexity.
As custodians of the land on which the Alvi’s Drift vineyards are situated, we are deeply committed to environmental conservation and social upliftment. Through sustainable farming practices, we strive to not only give back to our farm what is taken from it, but to constantly find ways to improve the health and diversity of this unique terrain.
In the land we steward, the people we work alongside, the way we operate and the products we create, we continuously strive to improve ourselves – our objective being excellence in every outcome.
This code of conduct enables us to honour our land, empower our people, uplift our community and, through our products, reach out to the greater community to join us on this journey.
4. Do you have any exciting plans under way?
Yes! We have finally gotten around to building a dedicated barrel centre … and just in the nick of time. Demand for our products continue to grow and we are just running out of space in the family cellar, which has grown much in the same way as farmhouses do as a family grows.
The new maturation cellar will allow us to operate in a safer and more sustainable manner and unlocks several opportunities for creating exceptional wines of uncompromising quality – wines that are as irresistible in taste as they are in price, which we look forward to introducing. (Spoiler alert: We are launching a new Sauvignon Blanc in September this year).
Otherwise, we are looking forward to rewarding our loyal supporters with a dedicated wine club, also to be launched this year, which will give a bit more of a behind-the-scenes look at life at Alvi’s Drift and let our friends in on some of the interesting wines we create, challenges we face and experiments that we are constantly busy with.
5. What is your message to other wine businesses?
Dare to be true. Believe in not only yourself but the people around you. Each winery and wine is a unique expression of the wonder that is South Africa and South African wine and the world is only just waking up to what we offer. Dare to be true to yourself, the people and the land and leave all better for having been there. It will bear fruit for generations to come.