As South Africa, and the world over, has rallied together to curb the spread of COVID19 and save lives, the resulting detrimental impact of regulations imposed (although much needed and necessary), is well documented. Unarguably, South Africa’s world-renowned wine industry has been one of the most heavily impacted with an overall loss of more than R8 billion in direct sales revenue (Vinpro).
As traditional business models and revenue streams literally dried up overnight, the choice to diversify across alternative revenue streams, in a bid to survive, proved essential. It also provided an opportunity for some players in South Africa’s wine industry to literally go back to the drawing board and reimagine themselves and their offering.
Avondale Wine Estate, situated just outside Paarl on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein mountains, is a case in point. A family owned and run wine estate, known for its award winning wines both locally and abroad, it found itself at the mercy of unchartered territory early on in South Africa’s Level 5 Lockdown.
“The resulting impact would have been dire – not just for us but, more importantly, for the community in which we operate.
Established in 1996, Avondale Wine Estate employs no fewer than 70 fulltime and seasonal workers, the majority of whom come from the surrounding areas.
“We also operate a Community Centre that includes a well-resourced creche and after care facilities for the children who live on our farm,” continues Grieve.
Whilst grateful for its export business Grieve was under no illusion that export alone would ensure their sustainability. “I think those first few weeks though were about survival. As we grappled to come to terms with what was going on around us, like many, we also knew we needed to support wherever possible.”
Home to the award winning FABER Restaurant (Top 30 Restaurants in South Africa, Best Garden Restaurant in Africa, Most Unique Experience in Africa and Best Restaurant View in South Africa), Chef Dale and his team redeployed its existing resources, turning FABER into a community outreach programme that provided no fewer than 1,000 meals a day five days a week for a period of three months to the HEART NPO.
“It gave us the opportunity to support an immediate need in our community, whilst we formulated our thinking and plans moving forward.”
The last 12 months has seen Avondale diversify across several complementary areas, expanding its offering to include so much more than just its traditional award-winning food and organic and biodynamic wine. “We looked at the beauty Mother Nature has given us and felt it apt to transform a visit to Avondale into an entire experience, for everyone and anyone, by offering access to our home, our gardens and this natural beauty,” says Grieve.
In addition to wine tasting, wine sales and FABER Restaurant, now operating usual hours since the reintroduction of Level 1, visitors to Avondale will be able to choose from several outdoor and other activities – all in full compliance with current COVID19 regulations and protocols, ensuring a memorable and safe experience:
- Avondale Eco Wine Safari
A wine tasting experience like no other set in the actual vineyards, visitors will experience and hear first-hand the origin of the Avondale organic and biodynamic ‘slow wine’ process and the crafted detail that accompanies every bottle of wine from origin of the soil through to its specially chosen name and wine label design.
- Avondale Garden Bar
The perfect way to end the week – sipping a glass of the Avondale organic wines or a gin cocktail in the beautiful Avondale gardens, surrounded by breath taking views of the Paarl and Simonsberg mountains.
- OCHRA Deli
A fine selection of produce from local like-minded suppliers, complete with readymade frozen FABER meals and the full range of Avondale wines. Using fresh produce from the surrounding farms and suppliers as well as fresh organic Avondale eggs, Ochra Deli serves breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Avondale Picnics
Choose from six private picnic tables on Avondale’s lawn, surrounded by the beautiful mountain views or be seated in the shade of the oak trees next to the stream. Complete with a picnic basket filled to the brim with delectable treats from FABER Restaurant and OCHRA Deli.
- Avondale Farm Walks
On Saturday mornings experience the natural fauna and flora as you choose one of many different walking routes or complete all if you feel up for the challenge.
- Avondale Venue Hire
Experience Avondale as the venue for your next event from small intimate gatherings, birthday parties and weddings through to corporate meetings and conferences, year-end events and private wine tastings and lunches.
“For those perhaps further afield, the last few months has also seen us start an Avondale Member’s Club,” says Grieve. From discounts as high as 20% through to free delivery and complimentary wine tastings, it allows Avondale to stay connected to and reward its loyal base of wine lovers and friends.
“It has been an extraordinary couple of months,” continues Grieve. “Unprecedented times call for determination and resilience, and an open mindedness to look at things differently. We are cautiously optimistic that the expansion of our offering will help us continue to navigate the challenges of these times – both for our own sustainability and the resulting continued delivery of a positive impact on the community and surrounding areas in which we operate.”