lundi 29 décembre 2014

Afrique du Sud : Jackson Family Wines rachète Fijnbosh Farm

Jackson Family Wines, which owns more than 20,000 acres of vineyards in California and around the world, is expanding to a new wine region: South Africa. The company is buying Fijnbosch farm, which includes 20 acres of vines in the Banghoek Valley, a ward in the prominent Stellenbosch region, according to a spokesperson for the firm.

Jackson Family is planning to release 1,000 cases of a Chardonnay called Capensis made from the farm's 2013 vintage, co-produced with vintner Antony Beck, a local whose family owns Graham Beck Wines. The purchase price for the farm, which totals 121 acres of land overall, was not disclosed. The deal continues a wave of expansion for the company, which has recently added vineyards in Oregon and California.

The Engelage family is selling the property, located near Bartinney and Thelema Mountain Vineyards, two top producers. Until now, they have sold the grapes to other wineries, including Jackson Family. Noted South African viticulturist Rosa Kruger has helped develop the site over the past 10 years while Graham Weerts, winemaker at Jackson's Stonestreet Winery in Sonoma, has been in charge of winemaking. They will continue with the project and the current vineyard manager will stay on.

The deal marks the most prominent California-based winery to invest on the Cape since Gallo began their Sebeka line and Mayacamas winery owner Charles Banks purchased Mulderbosch in 2010. Founded by Jess Jackson, the company is now headed by his widow, Barbara Banke, and includes 35 brands that account for 5 million cases of wine annually.

“The Jackson family believes in investing in great vineyards around the world, and Barbara Banke has been looking at South Africa as a great investment opportunity,” said Kristen Reitzell, public relations manager for the company. “Through Rosa and Graham, she believes this is one of the top areas for Chardonnay. It gives Rosa and Graham a consistent source for the project and one where they'll have complete control in the vineyard.”

South African wines have improved markedly and steadily in the past decade, though annual exports to the U.S. have plateaued at around 1 million cases. Most of the high-profile outside investment in South Africa has come from Bordeaux-based vintners, with Michel Rolland, Pierre Lurton, Denis Dubourdieu and former Pichon-Lalande owner May-Eliaine de Lencquesaing all consulting on or creating their own projects.

“I am thrilled the Jackson family is investing in South Africa,” said Banks, who owns both Mulderbosch and Fable Mountain Vineyards. ”They will be heavily focused on the vineyards and not just building another trophy winery in Stellenbosch. They will also bring some needed marketing clout to the region. I believe this will be positive for everyone.”