Mountain Ridge Wines, an established winery in the Cape’s Breedekloof wine region, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year as an integral part of the South African wine industry’s quest for growth in terms of value and quality wine exports. Mountain Ridge is home to the De Liefde, Jail Break, Mountain Ridge and Romansrivier wine ranges.
Formerly known as Romansrivier Co-op, Mountain Ridge has been involved in grape-growing and winemaking since 1949. The past decade has seen Mountain Ridge transform from a dependable co-operative supplying bulk wines to local and international customers to a wine company housing a number of award-winning wine brands as well as being a recognised provider of quality, terroir-specific bulk wines to local and international customers.
According to Justin Corrans, CEO and cellar master of Mountain Ridge Wines, the winery celebrates its 70th anniversary at one of the challenging, but also one of the most exciting times of the South African wine industry.
“It is no secret that the major challenges facing the industry are a drop in exports in 2019 as a result of the past four years of drought, lower wine consumption in South Africa as well as the industry’s continued struggle to find markets willing to pay better prices for the country’s wines than what we deserve,” he says. “We are making the best wines in our history, and to grow the industry our products are going to have to get a better return, especially in export markets.”
However, says Corrans, Mountain Ridge Wines has been around for seven decades and has experienced the many trials and tribulations the South African wine industry has had to face. “Just as Mountain Ridge has repositioned itself over the past few years to add value to its wines in terms of a non-negotiable commitment to quality and the creating of appealing wine brands, so the local industry is set to improve its image as a major player on the global stage, while at the same time continuing to introduce South African consumers to the magical spectrum of the country’s wine offerings.”
Corrans says that as a winery owned by 15 member-farmers, Mountain Ridge’s success lies in the inclusive commitment of all parties to provide the best wines expressing the unique terroir of the part of the Breedekloof wherein are farming, and have farmed for decades.
“Our quality quest begins in every vineyard on every farm,” says Corrans, “with each one of our growers being a partner in Mountain Ridge’s mission of quality excellence. They farm their vineyards to the winemakers’ vision, every batch of wine thus originating from vineyards nurtured to offer grapes ascribing to the vision of the cellar teams and – most importantly – the market.”
The region is known for diverse soils and varied slopes on different sides of the valley as well as the cool night-time temperatures allowing grapes longer than normal hang-time during the growing season, resulting in wines ranging from vibrant and bright, to complex, classic masterpieces.
“For our bulk clients in South Africa and around the world, Mountain Ridge has built a reputation as a boutique-bulk winery offering selected batches of wines for their discerning customers,” he says. “Together with this we have been successful in our exciting range of brands that have truly captured the imagination of the wine consumer. From the alluring De Liefde wines, the off-beat Jailbreak, popular Mountain Ridge to our iconic new Romansrivier offering of premium bottlings, Mountain Ridge has a wine for every wine lover, at different price points.
“Various wine competitions have recognised the quality of these ranges, who are now sporting double gold and other stickers, and we are predicting to increase our footprint in the market by elevating the profile of these brands.”
Current export markets include Europe, Russia and China, with the local market also start to play a pronounced role, a fact complemented by Mountain Ridge’s reputation for quality and service built up over seventy years.
“Our foray into the wine tourism market has also yielded dividends, not only in the number of visitors but also by getting wine lovers to form a relationship with the winery through a personal visit,” says Corrans. “Nothing promotes and sells a winery more than its location and its hospitality. Taking a look at the surroundings in which we are blessed to live and work, Mountain Ridge is very fortunate to have this unique positioning to add to the image of quality its wines have attained.
“Our forefathers, who went through trials and tribulations to establish Mountain Ridge 70 years ago will be very proud. And we are honoured to have their legacy. Now for the next seven decades.”