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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Kennisgewings | Notices

Val Loveren celebrates 30 years of abundance


Van Loveren, SA’s largest family owned wine cellars and Robertson Valley producer of the country’s foremost bottled wine brand, commemorates a host of significant milestones this month, not least of which is its 30th anniversary.

Known by visitors to the farm for its abundant red cannas, lush gardens and country hospitality, the Van Loveren trademark was founded by Wynand and Nico Retief on October 23, 1980 with only 500 cases of Premier Grand Cru. Since then, the size of the company’s brands has increased to over one million cases of 12 x 750ml per annum. Van Loveren offers an extensive range of wines, renowned for their widespread availability, consistency and quality.

Although Wynand and Nico’s father Hennie purchased the original Van Loveren farm in 1937, and the cellar was built in 1963, it was only in 1980 that wines were first made under the Van Loveren label. With over 350 hectares currently under vine, planted to a variety of cultivars, this stable produces over 40 wines in styles to be enjoyed across a spectrum of tastes and occasions. 

“We have been extremely fortunate over the past 30 years, that during all the highs and lows within the SA wine industry, Van Loveren Vineyards - which in 1980 was a relatively small production unit and winery - has become a successful trademark company,” says CEO Phillip Retief. “Today, production is still a key focus and support area, and wine the key driver within the business.”

From humble beginnings, Van Loveren has become a South African favourite. Staying true to its dictum of “good times with a good wine”, Van Loveren enjoys demand for its wines in markets across the globe.

“To experiment with wines, trying to be innovative and continuously adapting to the changing climates within our industry; to take calculated risks plus being able to live our passion in a stunningly beautiful valley have all added to a remarkable 30 year celebration of the Van Loveren trademark,” Phillip says.

Today, Nico and Wynand’s sons – the eponymous four cousins from which their most popular range takes its name – head up operations: Hennie and Neil are viticulturists, Bussell heads up winemaking and Phillip takes care of the business.

The enterprise produces five main ranges: Van Loveren, Christina van Loveren, Five’s Reserve, Papillon and Four Cousins. Over the years, some have soared beyond expectations, among them the Van Loveren Sauvignon Blanc and Van Loveren River Red, while there are similar aspirations for new additions over the past 18 months, such as Cramond Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay and Cramond Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot.

Renewed focus on the Wolverine Creek range of wines has seen it re-born as Van Loveren’s flagship brand bearing the name of matriarch Christina van Loveren, a family forebear who arrived in the Cape of Good Hope in 1699. Crafted by winemaker Danelle van Rensburg, this limited production range comprises a Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Noble Late Harvest, as well as two new inclusions – a Méthode Cap Classique and Sauvignon Blanc. Refining the concept of a “winery-within-a-winery”, the wines are each made from single-block vineyards and are released in numbered bottles.

“Throughout the history of viticulture and oenology, the differences in quality between one vineyard and another have carefully been observed, with the boundaries of these vineyards generally well demarcated,” says Danelle. “We decided to release a vineyard-specific range to illustrate this difference, and at the same time honour our namesake.”

 The accolades and high ratings they have already assembled are an indication of the quality being achieved.

“For some time we have wanted to link a range to Christina van Loveren and with the level of quality being achieved by the wines, it made sense to do it now in our 30th anniversary year,” adds Philip. “The name accentuates our strong familial ties and the farm’s rich heritage.”

Echoes of this heritage are found in another success story – the Van Loveren Four Cousins range, which is a decade old this year. It has captured the imagination of wine lovers, who have made it SA’s top-selling bottled wine. Its sparkling wine range, comprising three sweet and one dry variant, grows strongly. Notably, research indicates the Four Cousins Rosé is often the first port of call for novice wine-lovers, making it an important contributor to developing the industry, particularly in main markets.

Earlier this year, the Four Cousins Extra Light became the first bottled wine to be endorsed by the health and weight management organization Weigh-Less. Following on from this, a Light Natural Sweet Rosé – made to the specifications of food technologists at Weigh-Less – was added to the Four Cousins Lifestyle range and it is the only semi-sweet wine in SA endorsed by the organization.

Also marking a milestone this year is Van Loveren’s De Goree Farming, a BEE initiative established in 2004 in favour of a workers trust. A winner of the National Agri BEE Project of the Year that received an award in the Landcare programme for sustainable farming practice last year, De Goree recently received Fair Trade accreditation. As a result, all Five’s Reserve wines from the 2010 vintage will be certified as being part of the global program.

An agreement has been reached with the SA Wildlife College – an initiative of the WWF and Peace Parks Foundation - whereby part of the profit of every bottle of Five’s Reserve wine sold is donated for the training of conservationists.

This focus on natural heritage extends to other parts of the enterprise too. Van Loveren, home to one of the youngest volcanic pipes in SA that was formed about 64-million years ago and responsible for a rare kind of rock found in the area, is a member of the Biodiversity & Wine initiative. It has also set aside land for the protection of natural ecosystems, like those along its hiking trail where up to 100 avian species have been recorded.