Bellingham introduces new winemaking team

Friday, 2 July, 2004
Vera Orffer
Niel Groenewald, Lizelle Gerber and Mario Damon to join.

Bellingham has performed extremely well as one of South Africa's leading brands over recent years. This success is borne out by the fact that, in the huge UK market, Bellingham now accounts for 26% of all South African Wines sold above £5,00.

Notwithstanding this success, custodian of the Bellingham brand, DGB (Pty) Ltd, has further ambitious plans for the future. To help achieve these goals, and following previous winemaker Graham Weerts' relocation to the US, DGB CEO, Tim Hutchinson, recently announced the following appointments to the Bellingham cellar team:

Niël Groenewald will be chief winemaker (effective 1 July 2004), with Lizelle Gerber as winemaker (effective 1 August 2004) and Mario Damon, assistant winemaker (effective 1 July 2004).

Niël has a BSc Honours degree in Oenology and joins Bellingham from the Perdeberg Winery. He was also previously with Neethlingshof and Seidelberg.
'Niël will coordinate our winemaking activities where there is a great deal of work is being done in the premium category, with the Maverick and Spitz wines proving excellent flagships for the brand,' says Tim. 'Besides winemaking, we believe he will contribute significantly to the promotion and marketing of Bellingham.'

Niël says that he is looking forward to the new challenge: 'DGB is a strong company, and Bellingham has superb new facilities at Wellington and an excellent lineup of growers. I look forward to working with a great new winemaking team and building on the brand's success in terms of quality and volumes. I am also looking forward to being involved in the marketing of the brand and learning more about its international markets.'

Lizelle qualified at Elsenburg and joins DGB from Eikendal Vineyards. Prior to that, she spent time with Avontuur and Zevenwacht.
'She is a passionate winemaker who sees vineyard management as a vital component in the creation of fine wine, a principle that Bellingham appreciates greatly,' comments Tim. 'We look forward to Lizelle's contribution to the development of our portfolio with great anticipation.'

Mario has been with DGB since 1999 when he joined as a cellar assistant. He excelled in his studies, has worked closely with Graham in recent years, and has completed one harvest in France and will participate in another later this year.

'We are delighted with Mario's commitment and skill, and I am sure he will be a key member of the new Bellingham team,' says Tim.
Media queries: Vera Orffer
Tel: 021 529 5800

Heidi Rosenthal
Tel: 011 653 100

Lizelle Gerber, Niel Groenewald and Mario Damon
Lizelle Gerber, Niel Groenewald and Mario Damon

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