We get numerous emails and phone calls requesting free wine for charity or corporate events every month. They promise a “great marketing opportunity” and “exposure”, often with celebrities or famous sports personalities in attendance.
Our answer is simple: No. Save yourself the cost of the call. We believe in a concept called “fair exchange”, but more on that later. Wine costs time and money to produce. Unfortunately, we cannot take a walk through the vineyard and pick bottles of 4-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon as and when we need.
No, the wine is not free
Time: It takes approximately four years from planting for a vine to produce quality grapes and yields. During that time, kids eat three meals per day, and schooling and healthcare are getting more expensive, not to mention the ever-increasing rates, taxes, electricity and water costs. These all need payment before the grapes are ready. That’s not even considering the winemaking process.
Money: If starting from scratch, it takes a minimum investment of four years before you can begin to recoup any of your costs. If you’re trying to make more premium wine, you may still age it in French barrels for another three years.
Wine in South Africa is relatively cheap, hence our competitive export position, so margins require wine farms to sell volume to not only recoup costs but also to have the ability to invest in growing production and marketing initiatives.
From experience and talking to others in the wine industry, I believe it can take 15 to 25 years to recoup your investment and become cash positive. Of course, there are always exceptions, but they are few and far between.
If we were to sponsor a typical event of 200 people and wanted to make a meaningful “marketing” impact with great “exposure”, we would wish to supply about 60 bottles of white, 60 bottles of red wine and 60 bottles of Cap Classique. The total cellar door costs us about R27 500. Bear in mind that the cellar door cost considers the assumptions to recoup expenses and investments; however, cost price does not.
By now, you probably think we’re heartless capitalists who don’t care for anyone else. We heartily disagree and firmly believe that you can’t get anything in life without also giving, so we apply our “fair exchange” rule.
The concept of “fair exchange” is a transaction that leaves both parties satisfied with the return on their contribution. There is no set formula to measure this, which can differ quite extensively from one transaction to another, and we deal with each on a case-by-case basis.
Let me give you two examples of the fair exchange initiatives we have undertaken:
- Eggs For Education: We believe education is the cornerstone for a chance at a better life. As such, we approached Isabelo Charity, run by former Award-winning Chef Margot Janse in Franschhoek, to see how we could help. To date, we have contributed over R200 000, which buys 1 500 pre-school kids in the area at least one egg a week as a source of protein for their development by giving them meaningful nutrition so that they can start their education on a sound footing. We aim to double this to two eggs a week as we grow. You can buy eggs on our website if this meets your “Fair Exchange Rule.”
- The First Miracle Trust: We set this up in 2018 in partnership with my brother, Gary, who has over 30 years of experience working with various NGOs worldwide. Whilst this can require money, it also is a timely contribution. An example is our work with the Franschhoek Hospitality and Learning Academy. Each harvest season, the Academy sends their students to participate in a harvest day with us. We believe this is a great way to learn about wine and the industry of our valley. We’ve also sponsored a student on occasion who has shown interest in getting more involved in the wine world. We jointly fund this with proceeds from our limited edition First Miracle Magnum sales.
Please don’t phone us for a great “marketing exposure” event, the bank doesn’t recognise it as currency, and our suppliers won’t take it as payment. If, however, you have a “fair exchange” project that you think will align with our goals and can make a meaningful and sustainable difference, then maybe there is a chance.
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