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Sarel Meyer, chief executive of Stettyn Family Vineyards.

We chat with a cellar each month about their business, what makes them lie awake at night and what gives them hope. “Take calculated risks, work hard, stay humble, serve your team and hold on to your faith,” says Sarel Meyer, chief executive of Stettyn Family Vineyards.

1. Tell us more about Stettyn Family Vineyards?

Stettyn lies in a breath-taking valley between Villiersdorp and Worcester. Extensive vineyards are surrounded by majestic mountains, which one can admire from the front porch of our tasting room. The Botha family acquired Stettyn in 1818, and the farm has been in the family for eight generations now. The extended family has been making wine here since 1963, but only released their first wine label in 2001.

With 438 hectares of vineyards, of which 70% white and 30% red grape varieties, our modernised cellar has the capacity to press 10 000 tons of grapes every year. We have the advantage of being able to identify specific vineyard blocks to produce the desired quality for both bulk and bottled wine production, and maintain a healthy balance between exports and local sales.

We constantly strive to exceed consumer expectations. Quality is non-negotiable and drives everything we do throughout the packaged and bulk wine value chain. After all, quality starts in the vineyard!

Stettyn recently expanded our small tasting room into to a more contemporary tourist destination, bringing with it a welcome additional income stream. The tasting room offers world-class cheese platters, charcuterie and oysters along with our exceptional wines, and remains a sought-after address for local and international tourists. Stettyn employs 15 permanent staff members across all business activities.

Building and maintaining relationships remain the core of the wine industry and we value this highly at Stettyn. We also have a diverse and dynamic board that can make quick decisions based on the right information.

2. What do you believe has pulled you through in the past nearly two extremely challenging years?

Most importantly, as a team we’ve relied on our Heavenly Father more than ever before. We divided the business into profit centres and ring-fenced and put ownership in place for each, with clear guidelines and borders. Furthermore, we realised that it would take good teamwork to get through the Covid drought. We steered clear from speculation, and budgets were carefully prepared and aligned monthly.

3. What makes your region unique in terms of wine grape cultivation?

Stettyn’s farms have a unique combination of soil types, climate, topography and location, together with abundant flora and fauna. After a scientific investigation by the Wine and Spirits Council, Stettyn was approved as a Wine of Origin area.
We are also on the threshold between the cooler, wetter Boland region and the tougher, drier Karoo. The icy winters allow for good dormancy in the vineyards, while the surrounding mountains capture enough water for the hot summer months.

4. Any exciting new plans under way?

Stettyn has an extensive vineyard renewal programme and focuses on a platinum strategy whereby we identify our best vineyard blocks in advance and channel them to specific markets. The exceptional quality of our Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend has especially boosted Stettyn’s brand.

5. What is your advice to other wine-related businessed on the way forward?

Rather drink wine than you make it yourself! On a more serious note, we anticipate that 2022’s harvest will be particularly challenging in terms of high inflation and significant input cost increases. At Stettyn, we keep things simple – take calculated risks, work hard, be humble, serve your team and hold on to your faith.

 

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