De Wetshof News | Winter 2020

Tuesday, 30 June, 2020
De Wetshof Estate
In these extraordinary times, it is difficult to avoid an over-used cliché, namely that nothing will anywhere be quite the same again. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to dire consequences everywhere, scarcely an aspect of human activity having been left untouched. With the South African wine industry being hit particularly hard.

When the nationwide lockdown commenced on 23 March, South Africa became one of the only countries in the world to enforce a complete ban on the sale of wine and other alcohol drinks. Initially, this included wine exports, which, after much frustrating toing and froing, were eventually lifted allowing De Wetshof to ship to its international clients. Local consumers had to wait 66 days from the onset of lockdown to buy wine at any retail outlet - including wineries.

With restaurants, hotels, bars and other sectors of the local hospitality being shut-down, sales channels for wines have been closed for three months now. Initially, predictions for the industry were dire. No-one had ever seen this kind of situation, nor anticipated it. But as the lockdown doors began to open with wine sales permitted, the wine industry showed its characteristic resilience, as well as an ability to adapt. As has been the case so often in the past.

With limited business opportunities in the business sector, the South African wine industry has almost overnight learnt to focus on the individual and personal customer service. During the lockdown, wine orders were still being taken on-line, and like many other wineries, De Wetshof saw a massive increase in online business from wine-lovers the country over. This personal contact allowed us to expand the customer database, forging personal relationships with hundreds of new customers who had ordered - and continue to order – our wine via the internet.

Our staff and our customers are now more than ever establishing one-on-one relationships. Cementing partnerships. Raising our levels of service and realising the expectations of the most important part of the wine business – our customers.

Before the lockdown, some 2% of all South African wine sold was done so on-line. It is anticipated that by the end of this year, 20% of this business will be via the internet. Personal service through stronger relationships is the future for De Wetshof and the rest of the wine industry. We look forward to helping our customers experience the joy of wine in this new world, which has changed forever.

Old is Gold

In De Wetshof’s communication over the years, those reading our missives and attending wine-tastings (those were the days!) would have often heard us heralding the joys of aged Chardonnay. While all our wines are released to offer that intriguing beauty the Chardonnay grape is known for, this wine variety is known to attract complexity and multi-layered intricacy as it ages. But the question is asked: where to get older wines?

The Wine Library at De Wetshof

With this in mind, De Wetshof recently announced the offering of wines from our newly established Wine Library, which was established to make rare, older vintages available for purchase. Through the De Wetshof Wine Library wine-lovers can now access Chardonnay and other wines personally identified by Johann and Peter de Wet as having reached optimum levels of maturation and have been kept under ideal storage conditions at 14°C. All the vintages on offer have also been tasted by Johann and the De Wetshof team to ensure premium quality.

Johann de Wet, CEO of De Wetshof Estate in the Wine Library

The offering from the De Wetshof Wine Library can be viewed on And once wineries are allowed to open their doors, special tastings can be arranged in the library itself, an atmospheric space in the underground cellar where come majestic Chardonnay offerings await.

Finesse Chardonnay: 30 Years of Elegance

The Finesse Chardonnay has become a part of the ethos of De Wetshof, with the 2019 vintage that is on the market marking the 30th year this wine has been produced. At the time of the first Finesse vintage, it was – like many of De Wetshof’s wines – a pioneering wine. Danie de Wet introduced Finesse into the market in 1989, specifically aiming it at consumers preferring a lighter-wooded style of Chardonnay. In 1989 the South African Chardonnay industry was barely ten years old, with most of the early Chardonnay producers making wines with a substantial component of new oak-aging. According to De Wet, he wanted to introduce consumers to the fresher, citrus and floral features of Chardonnay, a variety with which he had become infatuated during his studies at the Geisenheim Institute in Germany.

"No unwooded Chardonnays were on the market back then," recalls Danie, "but with the Finesse, I attempted to straddle the structural intensity of our well-oaked wines with the linear vibrancy of unoaked Chardonnay. After a lot of experimenting with older oak barrels, the Finesse Chardonnay was born as a more modestly wooded wine offering some of the complexity and structure of firm oaking, while maintaining the refined purity of what the grape has to offer." 

Since its maiden release in 1989, Finesse has become one of the most popular wines in the De Wetshof stable. It was this wine that earned De Wet the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award in 1993 with the De Wetshof Finesse 1993.

This stalwart has come along way, with the Finesse 2020 ready for market this coming spring. Currently, De Wetshof is open for wine sales at the winery, or as per usual on-line from our website.

Wherever you are, we wish you all the best in these most unforeseen times and look forward to opening our doors soon to visitors old and new.