In 2010 a South African export company led the way by exporting its own stylish wine brand to Beijing among other destinations. Locally Sarah’s Creek has been flying under the radar, but the secret is bound to get out sooner or later. By Johannes Richter
As I sit down to talk to Chin-Africa Impex business manager Gideon Malherbe at the company’s scenic Tygerberg Waterfront head office, I’m struck by the array of bottle shapes and label designs on his desk. For a small export operation of 11 people, Chin-Africa Impex seems to have conquered the world of premium export wines and FMCG products. But the true star of the show is the young girl depicted on the Sarah’s Creek label.
“Sarah’s Creek is our focus now,” Gideon says. “We want to build it into the brand it wants to be.” The girl on the label honours Gideon’s great aunt Sarah who as a youngster had to cross a small stream on her way to school. The stream dried up long ago, but several generations later the land in the Robertson Valley is still in the family. “Ownership is crucially important for an intellectual property.”
They first hit on the idea of introducing their own label in 2006, but it took a few years and some early misses to get the focus just right. Different label designs were considered – from a traditional French look with a mountain in the background to more modern, abstract styles. Nothing really grabbed them until they came across this photo of a girl jumping over a creek. It was an obvious choice for the label design. “Designing the label still represents most of the work,” Gideon says. “We’re always modernising and updating its look and feel.” Which explains all the bottles on the table.
“Sarah’s Creek is a lifestyle brand,” he says. “That means consistency ….