Agri-Economist Pieter van Niekerk to lead new SA wine intelligence firm

Monday, 17 January, 2022
Southern Skies
Innovative wine sales and marketing solutions group, Southern Skies, announces agricultural economist and experienced wine industry analyst, Pieter van Niekerk, as Chief Intelligence Officer and Managing Partner of new subsidiary Vintelligence.

The appointment heralds a new dawn for an enterprise geared to enabling and empowering South African wine producers and brands through providing more affordable access to powerful analytics and data intelligence tools.

“We’re delighted to partner with Pieter, whose expertise and passion for business intelligence is a natural fit for our data-driven focus at Southern Skies,” says founder and Group Managing Director Andrew Douglas. “Pieter’s role and focus will not only help corral and interpret information critical for the industry but will also provide a serious business intelligence capability to assist our own group companies and activities at large.”

Van Niekerk has built a successful career across varied facets of South Africa’s agricultural landscape. As Senior Agricultural Economist at peak industry body Vinpro, he focussed on the wine value chain, with a grape-to-glass approach to wine business management and advice. In this capacity, he has also become well-known as an industry commentator.

Vinpro Managing Director Rico Basson welcomed Van Niekerk’s appointment and the potential benefits to an industry of some 2,600 wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders. “Our organisation has always advocated a collaborative approach and we commend Andrew, Pieter and the Southern Skies team for always striving to add value and finding innovative solutions to challenges facing our industry,” he says.

Van Niekerk says he relishes his new role. “Vintelligence’s aim is to provide wine producers with the business intelligence they need to assist them in the running of their businesses. While data is often a confusing, complicated obstacle for most, we seek to demystify and decipher data for our customers.  I’m passionate about improving the levels of data literacy within the industry by making it more accessible, more affordable and most importantly, more translatable into actionable insights and practical recommendations.”

Founder and Managing Director of Rascallion Wines, Ross Sleet says: “It’s fantastic to get access to research like the now-established Great BIG Wine Survey as well as the products and tools that Vintelligence is planning to introduce in the future. Coming from Distell, before I started Rascallion, I saw the power of data in decision-making. Up until now, the costs to obtain consumer research insights for small to medium wine producers and brands like mine have been very prohibitive. It's clear that Vintelligence’s primary goal is to make data and insights available to these producers at more affordable rates.”

Among Vintelligence’s current projects underway is the distillation and release of the 2021 Great BIG Wine Survey (GBWS) report and preparation of 3 to 4 “deep dives” and accompanying regional workshops.

The Great BIG Wine Survey launched in 2020 and is proudly supported by Hollard Insurance. The GBWS will continue to be produced in partnership with Johannesburg-based independent consumer insights company, KLA. Contributing international perspective and context for the second time in as many years is Sydney-based founder of Wine Business Solutions and on-premise research expert Peter McAtamney.  In addition to South Africa, McAtamney advises clients in a wide variety of wine markets including New Zealand, Australia, China, the UK and the United States.

Van Niekerk is also pleased to announce the inclusion of experienced consumer insights and former Nielsen associate Xania van der Merwe in the 2021 GBWS team.

“We’re looking to do more with this year’s release of the GBWS, beyond the free report generated for industry,” says van Niekerk. “The deep dives will focus on specific topics and will be supplemented with informative workshops for sales and marketing professionals, facilitated by Xania.”

“Following the release of the 2021 GBWS and prior to getting back into field for the 2022 instalment of same, we’ll be launching our first Direct-to-Customer report by utilising sales data from Southern Skies subsidiary CellarDirect,” Van Niekerk adds.

“In time, we plan to avail ourselves to the entire wine industry value chain including industry bodies, tourism routes, cultivar associations and the like for commissioned research projects. We strive to work closely and collaborate with established colleagues like SAWIS, Winetech, WOSA and Vinpro to name but a few.  We will play to our strengths and core competencies and add value to existing efforts where appropriate.”

For more information, contact Pieter van Niekerk on email at

Pieter van Niekerk
Pieter van Niekerk

Rico Basson
Rico Basson

Ross Sleet
Ross Sleet

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