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Paul de Villiers (V), cellar master and co-owner of Landskroon Wines.

We chat with one of our members each month about their business, what makes them lie awake at night and what gives them hope. Paul de Villiers (the Fifth), cellar master and co-owner of Landskroon Wines, encourages wine producers to continuously renew their vineyards, while focusing specifically on high quality grapes and wines.

1. Tell us more about Landskroon Wines?

Landskroon is located on the south-western slopes of Paarlberg, on the Suid-Agter-Paarl road. The original part of the farm, Weltevreden, was bought in 1874 by Paul de Villiers, whose family farmed on Boschendal for about 100 years. Over the years, the De Villiers’ bought three more adjoining farms to Weltevreden.

The farm is 333 ha in size, with 160 ha under vineyard. About 90% of our vineyards are red cultivars, and we cultivate 12 red and three white winegrape cultivars.

Although wine has been made here since 1874, the first wine was bottled in 1974 under the name Landskroon. Today, 147 years after the first Paul de Villiers acquired the original portion of the farm, four of our family members are involved in running the business with me, Paul de Villiers (the Fifth), as the cellar master.

Our typical target market is especially red wine lovers who can obtain our wines at affordable prices, and the split between our local sales and exports is approximately 50:50.

Apart from wine grape cultivation and the cellar activities, the farm also has a self-catering cottage which is very popular. Here visitors can enjoy the fresh farm atmosphere with breathtaking views of the beautiful Boland Mountain ranges and Table Mountain. At our tasting room we offer informal tastings, two food and wine tasting options, as well as “bring-your-own-picnic” (booked in advance).

We also sow to some extent and some of our land is used for grazing. We employ 40 people across all of our operating activities.

2. The past year has certainly been the most challenging yet for the SA wine industry. How did the trade restrictions affect you, and what do you believe helped you get through it?

The past year has been challenging and we have had to cut our expenses to the bone. Who would have ever thought that for some months there would be no income? During the months we were able to sell, online sales, as with most wineries, increased sharply.

3. What makes the Paarl region special in terms of tourism and wine grape growing?

The Paarl region has always been a well-known and popular tourist destination. It is only a 50 minute drive from Cape Town, with easy access. The region offers a wide range of activities, and variety of restaurants, beautiful views and excellent wines, especially on the Suid-Agter-Paarl road, make it a great option for visitors. The Paarl region offers a variety of wine styles, but our region especially offers great quality red wines at affordable prices.

4. Any exciting plans underway?

We continuously focus on the renewal of old vineyards, and we strive to replace portions of older blocks annually as the vineyards’ productions start to decline.

Online sales are here to stay and this has shown great growth over the past year. As an industry, we will have to further improve this service in the future, in collaboration with the respective courier companies.

5. What is your message to other cellars or producers about the way forward?

I think in the next few years it will be important for producers not to continue farming with vineyards that are not producing at the optimal volume or quality. Especially in the Paarl region, where yields are lower, we need to focus on high quality red wine cultivars. Private cellars and producers should try to add value as far as possible, and not produce wines that end up being sold in bulk. The same goes for wine grape producers who need to ensure they plant the right cultivars for which there is a demand and for which a premium will be paid.

 

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