Interview with DP Burger of GlenWood Vineyards
The world has been drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the wine industry in South Africa has been hit particularly hard due to the South African Government's stringent restrictions on the sale of alcohol during lockdown. Initially, these restrictions included a complete halt on all exports. However, exports were reinstated a number of weeks into South Africa's lockdown and more recently, sales of alcohol in general, have been re-instated but only on 4 days of the week during specific times of the day.
We checked in on DP Burger, Cellar Master at GlenWood Vineyards in Franschhoek, who many of customer know and have met at events in London and at High Grosvenor, to see what the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown has been at GlenWood and in Franschhoek.
Robyn: What impact has COVID and the lockdown had on Franschhoek and the SA wine industry?
DP: The initial hard lockdown period was extremely tough especially when the Government decided to stop all wine exports as well. We were really in a dark place. When exports opened again, the relationships we built up over the years with many, many hours on planes to Europe paid off as our loyal customers really supported us! I can only say a HUGE THANK YOU to each and every Hard to Find Wines, GlenWood friend!
The impact of COVID-19 on Franschhoek has and still is absolutely catastrophic. It does look like a ghost town with many of the restaurants having closed their doors. Opening looks to be almost impossible as the restaurant business still stays under total lockdown at this point in time. The longterm forecast for tourism does not look great but as usual, we are looking forward to welcoming each and every guest back to our beautiful valley as soon as it is safe to travel.
Robyn: How has this impacted GlenWood directly?
DP: It was a dark day for me as General Manager and Cellar Master when we closed the GlenWood Restaurant. At this stage I have no idea if or when we will open again. Only time will tell. From a wine sales point of view, the initial 60 days of lockdown with zero sales revenue was tough but we bounced back on 1 June 2020 when the sale of alcohol was permitted again. Again our loyal followers were knocking on the cellar door and we gladly assisted to quench their thirst. During Level 5 wineries were also not allowed to process any wine. Bottling or any form of labeling and packaging were not allowed. Now we are processing like wildfire to keep the supply going.
Robyn: What creative ways is GlenWood using to boost sales for the vineyard?
DP: We live in another wine world since 26 March 2020! We kept in touch with all our customers via social media and the response was GREAT! Again we can only say THANK YOU to each and every Facebook “like” and comment received. It was great to know that our friends were with us in thought and in the enjoyment of the GlenWood wines! The launch of a brand new website was also introduced during the lockdown period which has been well supported with e-commerce sales and the spreading of information. Please go and visit the site at www.glenwoodvineyards.co.za for some fantastic pictures of the farm.
Robyn: What exciting plans do you have for customers who are planning to visit once COVID is over?
DP: At this point in time we are in uncertain times and have no idea as to when we can welcome you under the oak tree at the Glenwood Tasting Room but rest assure, we will be ready to share our unique wines and foods with you as soon as it is possible! WE CAN’T WAIT!
Robyn: Tell us about the 2020 harvest and what we can look forward to from the 2020 vintages?
DP: I am VERY excited especially on the Chardonnay front! The grapes ripened slowly and the concentration is beautiful! The 2020 Unoaked Chardonnay was launched end of May 2020 and delivers well above our expectations! As far as the reds are concerned……….. they are patiently finishing malolactic fermentation and they do look FANTASTIC!
Robyn: How can customers help GlenWood while travel is banned?
Robyn: Is there anything else you would like Hard to Find Wines' customers to know?
DP: We can’t wait to welcome you back at the farm. Thank you for all the support while the alcohol ban was in place in South Africa. Every glass of GlenWood wines enjoyed in the UK via Hard to Find Wines did help us a lot and it is so much appreciated. Words can’t explain it. From all at GlenWood, STAY SAFE and we will enjoy a glass or three as soon as the airways open!