Chinese acquisitions of foreign wineries are nothing new, but businessman William Wu’s recent purchase of Swartland Winery near Cape Town is making news.
“The market is in China where I have a ready demand for the quality and volume of wine Swartland produces,” Wu was quoted as saying in an article this past month by Bloomberg.
The winery is located in South Africa’s Malmesbury region, “known for its Merlot and Pinotage red wines,” Bloomberg reported.
A story by South Africa’s Business Report said Wu purchased 51 percent of the company after gaining approval from the winery’s 70 shareholders.
Wu heads up China’s biggest security company and has lived in South Africa since the early 1980’s the Report’s article said.
“Wu said Swartland was a great investment,” the Report noted. “Its infrastructure, including bottling, warehousing and distribution, offered total control of supply and a one-stop shop for exporting to the Far East as well as continuing to service global and local markets.”
Part of the draw of acquiring Swartland was the winery’s plethora of red grapes.
“(Swartland) is one of the few South African wineries of this size where the majority of grapes planted are red varieties – in which the Chinese market is most interested,” Wu told Bloomberg.
According to Bloomberg, the South African winery processes about 25,000 metric tons of grapes per year.
The winery’s website elaborated on the location and history of the winery, which has been around for more than 60 years, Bloomberg noted.
“The vineyards benefit from the constant cool breezes that blow off the Atlantic Ocean, effectively sustaining the many microclimates, while the proximity to mountain ranges adds its own dimension to the physical character of the fruit,” the Swartland website says of its vineyards’ location.
Vineyards were first planted in 1948, and by 1950, the Swartland site says, “the winery was up and running and membership had swelled to 48 farmers, supplying 2,500 tons of grapes int eh first year.”
In 1977, the winery became the first co-op in South Africa to “bottle, sell and market its own brand” and in 1994 the winery made its first exports to Europe, the site says.
Swartland became a public company in 2006.
The winery produces about two million cases of wine per year, sourced from 3,600 hectares of vineyards, the site says.
Origin: Snooth – Articles