A Tribute to Nico Bacon: Captain of the Seas, Son of the Soil

Friday, 3 July, 2020
Wine Goggle, Emile Joubert
The first time I met Nico Bacon he wanted to know what we in the wine industry thought we were doing. Thing is, he said sitting in the minimalist boardroom of his Viking Fishing Company in Cape Town Harbour, Viking goes out to sea, gets fish, brings it back, sells it. Wine, on the other hand, was a different story.

“Why does it take years to sell the stuff?” In posing questions like this, Oom Nico had the knack of making you feel as if you were required to answer – correctly, and promptly.

Oom Nico had, of course, a reason for asking this question. Since 2000 he had been the owner of Org de Rac, the wine-farm he began outside Piketberg in the Swartland and has been committed to organic farming since day one. He loved the land, and he loved soil. Perhaps not as much as the sea, but it too was nature. And this wine farm he juggled along with many business interests while remaining one of the legends and most respected leaders of the South African fishing industry.

Nico Bacon grew-up in Gordon’s Bay, obsessed with the sea and with rugby which he played at senior club level. A qualified mechanical engineer, Oom Nico began his career in the fishing industry in 1959 with Kaap Kunene Group, before moving to I&J where he worked his way up to becoming group fishing manager. In 1980 he founded Viking Fishing with a loan of R30 000 and built it into one of South Africa’s top five fishing companies.

I began dealing with Oom Nico through my professional association with Org de Rac, where my old friend Frank Meaker is winemaker. Coincidentally, as a 14-year-old, Frank was given a job at I&J by Oom Nico  in the tool department where he was tasked with counting nuts and bolts.

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Nico Bacon at the place he loved best: with boats, and the water
Nico Bacon at the place he loved best: with boats, and the water

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