On 31 March 2015, Perdeberg Winery in Paarl formally received its cheque of R20,000 as a winner in the inaugural Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, held in August 2014. As per the stipulations of the competition, Perdeberg will invest the money in projects that will benefit its workforce – those who contribute to the Winery’s reputation as a wine producer of distinction.
If you’re going to call your winery the “Home of Chenin Blanc” – as they do at Perdeberg Winery in Paarl, the words emblazoned proudly as part of its logo – you had better deliver on that claim.
Winemakers and management clearly do that at Perdeberg. Scroll down the winery’s long (very long) honours rolls for the past few years, and its range of Chenin Blancs feature prominently – there’s hardly an award the varietal hasn’t picked up for Perdeberg. (It helps, of course, that Perdeberg was the first in the country to embrace new technologies like cold fermentation; and that Paarl boasts the majority of Chenin plantings in South Africa, where Chenin is the most widely planted variety.) In 2014, Perdeberg picked up another award, named among the winners of the inaugural Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge, hosted by the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa (CBA) and sponsored, for three years from 2014-2016, by Standard Bank. In that competition, the judges hailed Perdeberg’s as a “powerful but well balanced wine”.
But the winery recognises that producing wine requires teamwork, explained Albertus Louw, Production Manager at Perdeberg, when he and CEO Gerhard van der Watt accepted the cheque from Standard Bank in Paarl on 31 March 2015. Which is why they embraced the stipulation of the Top Ten Challenge that the prize money – R20,000 to each of the ten winners – be used to “reinforce the economic and social benefits in the workplace to the workforce”.
“This is a way of giving back to the people who start the wine-making process, out there in vineyards,” said Louw. Perdeberg will divide the money among projects hosted by three of its producers. The larger portion will go to the purchase of supplies and research material for the aftercare facility at the Hoogstede farm. Funding will also go towards crèches at the Eenzaamheid and Vryguns farms; Perdeberg has a long association with these facilities thanks to its pioneering role in the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA).
In turn, the winery earns the prestige of being named as a producer of one of the top ten Chenin Blancs in the country. “Chenin is close to our heart because it’s one of our big cultivars, one that has done very well for us over many years,” noted Van der Watt. The competition also gives valuable exposure for the varietal as a whole, said Ina Smith, manager of the CBA. “Chenin Blanc is now getting the recognition it deserves, and the top ten is just a snapshot of the greatness that awaits the consumers.” Standard Bank chose to back the competition because of the value the wine industry adds to the country, both as an earner of foreign exchange and as a job creator, noted Nico Loock, Provincial Agribusiness Manager at Standard Bank.
“As a bank we want to invest in and support the wine industry to grow,” said Loock. “In this case we looked at a particular cultivar, a cultivar that we believe will grow, and offer consumers something different.”