Bonnievale News : June 2017

Elethu Black-Owned Farm pays dividends | Wine with roots in the community | Education is an important focus...


Elethu black owned farm pays dividends Elethu, the successful 100% black-owned grape farming initiative that benefits Bonnievale Wines workers, is approaching a significant milestone. In May next year the equal shareholding in the 30ha Elethu farm initiative comes to an end and 100% management is transferred to the Bonnievale Workers Empowerment Trust.

The trust recently declared a dividend for its 31 beneficiaries from the Elethu (“It is ours”) farm’s 2016 harvest. All the beneficiaries are Bonnievale Wines cellar or farm workers, including the farm manager. The Trust owns the 32ha farm of which 16ha have been planted.

The farm is operated in 50/50 collaboration with a commercial farmer. When this agreement comes to an end in May 2018, the Trust will take full responsibility for the farm management, under the continued mentorship of Bonnievale Wines’ management team. John Barnardt, Bonnievale Wines CEO and chairperson of the Trust, says an application has been submitted for funding to plant a further 16ha of grapes next year. This will mainly be cabernet sauvignon.


The wine industry is a significant contributor to the South African economy and has been the livelihood of thousands of families for centuries. Go deeper and you’ll also discover that the roots of wineries in their communities go even deeper, especially in Bonnievale. At Bonnievale Wines, it’s not all about work. Every end of year for example, Bonnievale Wines rewards its most productive cellar workers at a prize-giving. The event is followed up with an excursion that in recent years has included a trip to the sea and Table Mountain. At this same time of the year, Bonnievale Wines also hosts a yearly Christmas market as a fund-raiser for the village’s Herfsvreugde retirement home.

Throughout the year however, various community organisations and initiatives see the winery become an ad-hoc supporter. “Wine has always been foremost about people - from harvest to the glass,” says Bonnievale Wines CEO John Barnardt. “It’s an important principle that we embrace as part of our business and as part of our community.”

Last month’s newsletter highlighted the winery’s donation to the local Hospice during its March golf day fundraiser. “Your commitment to Hospice contributed to a successful function,” said Breede River branch manager Jane Phillips. “Humanitarian care in the Langeberg region will be greatly improved thanks to the donations from organisations like Bonnievale Wines.


We always think nothing big ever happens in Bonnievale,” begins a letter that arrived in the Bonnievale Wines post box last week. Written by a learner, it followed an educational excursion that Bonnievale Wines helped realise.

The entire Grade 12 classes of Bonnievale High School undertook a sponsored trip to the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town to see Athol Fugard’s My Children, My Africa - a story of generational conflict over the most effective means for ending apartheid in South Africa. “The show was unbelievable. It was a realistic look at a time we would never have understood if it were not for the show,” says the letter-writer. “The story also taught us valuable lessons around kindness to people no matter their background or circumstances.

Thank you to everyone who made this special event possible.


According to the most recent study on the macro economic impact of the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS), published in 2015, the wine industry:
• Contributed R36 145 million to the annual GDP of South Africa in 2013;
• Supports employment opportunities to the tune of 289 151 in SA. Of this number 55.6% are unskilled, 29.3% semi-skilled and 15% skilled; and
• Generated household income worth R23 579 million, of which R3 994 million is destined for the lower income groups.

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