Distell is launching Libertas Vineyards and Estates as a new standalone company with ownership of all Distell’s premium wine brands, the company announced in a statement on Tuesday.
Libertas Vineyards and Estates MD Kay Nash said the move was a “significant shift” from Distell’s previous approach where premium wines were managed as a division within the global company’s multi-category portfolio.
“We have started the premiumisation journey at all levels in the business from fine wine skills to brands and brand experiences, portfolio structures, ways of working and new collaborations and global routes to market.”
Nash believes the move out of Distell and the formation of an independent board of directors comprising industry leaders, will support real focus on the premium and fine wine category while being able to leverage the benefit of scale that Distell brings in critical parts of the value chain.
The portfolio of brands includes Alto, Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap and Allesverloren, as well as the heritage assets of Chateau Libertas, Zonnebloem and the Tabernacle.
The new business’s first priority in the short term will be to critically review the large portfolio.
“We have eight brands and 40 sub-sub-brands operating in 88 markets globally across 22 grape varietals, and spanning 384 stock keeping units. The cost of this complexity is significant and it hinders our ability to focus and support winning propositions.”
Nash said the company has started to consolidate the secondary production from four sites to a single site at Nederburg to ensure a more efficient supply chain.
“We also understand the critical importance of our farms and partners in making beautiful wines and we want to actively participate in developing solutions and the up-skilling of our industry so we can build a sustainably successful premium wine industry.”
Plans are under way on multiple levels and include redefining the Nederburg Auction as a fine and rare wine platform for South African wines to showcase top South African wines locally and globally.
There are also plans to use the historic Oude Libertas site to build a distinctive destination for wine, innovation, learning and craft.
The ambitions include a collaborative living-working space, a craft centre for local artisanal product sales, a high-tech wine museum for the country’s collective history and a microwinery for young wine talent.