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Mitigating fire and other risks in the South African wine industry

The recent spate of fires in the winelands of the Western Cape has again brought the issue of the wine producer’s risk to the fore, with a number of wine farms being adversely affected. Shehnaz Somers, head of commercial underwriting at Santam said the company is still assessing the damage and loss as a result of fires spreading to well-known vineyards and guest farms in the winelands and surrounding areas over the past month.

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Pollen is buzzing

A new Stellenbosch-based specialist on-line lending firm Pollen – targeting small to medium enterprises (SMEs) – appears to be tapping a very lucrative niche. Pollen is the brain-child of Louis du Plessis, who has the backing of his older brother JP du Plessis and banking legend GT Ferreira via the Anglo African Group. Anglo African is a well known financier in the wine sector, and once even made a bid to takeover Paarl-based liquor company KWV way back in 2002.

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Kanonkop and Rijk’s set to make history in 20th anniversary

Absa top 10 Pinotage competition

The two top producers in the history of the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition are both vying for a record 11th win in this premier wine competition which has been an integral part of the South African wine industry scene since 1997. Kanonkop Estate from Stellenbosch and Tulbagh’s Rijk's Private Cellar both saw two of their Pinotage wines making the list of 20 finalist wines from which this year’s Absa Top 10 winners will be chosen for the awards ceremony on August 26.

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Freedom frees up Stellies property

Freedom Property Fund, a real estate development specialist, has surprisingly sold off a recently acquired slab of industrial land in Stellenbosch for R49m, it was announced last month. The Stellenbosch industrial property – a sizeable warehousing facility located on George Blake Street in the sought after Plankenburg Industrial – was only acquired by Freedom in 2013 for R49m. This seems a tough sale for Freedom – not only was no capital gain profit registered on the sale, but the property was independently valued at R59,5m with annual rental income of R4,3m. Freedom said the disposal would be used to settle the existing bond on the property and the remaining proceeds would be applied to specific approved future developments.

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Distell extends its national supply contract with Afrox

Stellenbosch-based liquor group Distell has extended its national supply contract with Afrox to support an upgrade at its secondary cider packaging plant in Springs, east of Johannesburg, which is Distell’s biggest cider production site. Distell is the leading cider producer on the local market through its best-selling Savanna and Hunter’s Dry brands and is ranked as the second-biggest cider company globally.

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Grapetek packs up Vinguard

VENTURE capital investment company John Daniel Holdings (JDH) has chucked out its majority stake in Stellenbosch-based grape packaging technology firm Vinguard. The sale, strangely, comes not long after JDH – which initially trumped up the prospects for the grape packaging technology – had increased its stake in Vinguard from 73,38% to 75,87%. The biggest irony is that Vinguard was sold to its bigger rival Grapetek for just R6m.

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