On Saturday 9 February 2008, Vrede en Lust celebrated the official launch of its new venues, Cotage Fromage and its new wines. The function was attended by just more than 200 invited guests on a beautiful and wind free summers evening. The text below from Dana Buys’ speech.
Welcome to Vrede en Lust’s new Vineyard Terrace! We appreciate you taking the time to celebrate this evening with us on a Saturday night! Special thanks those who came from Gauteng and KZN and my parents who came up from Port Elizabeth.
We can assure you that the show will go on even if ESCOM decides to cut power tonight! The power will go off for at most a minute or so while the permanent generator kicks in.
Thanks to the press who are here. You represent mainly the broad press and we believe you are the key to growing wine consumption in South Africa. The growth in domestic wine consumption has been poor.
If we look at what happened in the US, during the early 90?s after the massive TV coverage of the so-called French Paradox, we see how education re the health benefits of moderate consumption of wine can ignite a market. The US has now overtaken Italy in total wine consumption and will soon overtake France.
The number of US consumers who prefer wine as drink, now exceed those who prefer beer – and that in the land of Bud & Miller!
While wine delivers some great health benefits, it also offers a life long journey of discovery and the opportunity to share that journey with loved ones. In the Cape we are blessed with the most beautiful and well-located, wine regions I have seen anywhere in the world.
This year, Vrede en Lust will celebrate its 320th birthday. I originally thought of tonight as the launch of Vrede en Lust 2.0, but looking at the owners over time, I realize that it is in fact Vrede en Lust Version 20!
We have learned a great deal in the 12 years since originally purchasing Vrede en Lust. The market has evolved a great deal and a winery has to change with the times.
The days of wine tasting trips to 5 estates are nearly over. Wine tourists want to go to fewer destinations and rather take in the experience and the lifestyle. This led us to change the way we approach wine tourism.
At a strategy session a year ago, we decided that we needed to focus much more on the wine tourist experience. This included the key need, to become a dependable destination and not one that is frequently closed for private functions.
We developed a plan that would require a radical revamp of the Cotage Fromage and building of the new function venue. We also improved and extended our accommodation offering. We have now rolled out the first stage of our plan.
Once we have bedded down these changes, we will extend our wine tourism offerings next season.
In designing the new venue our goal was to retain many of the Plaza?s strengths and to eliminate most of its weaknesses. Working with our architects, we came up with the new Vineyard Terrace. Its views are even more spectacular than those from the Plaza and it is right in the vineyard.
The modern structure works very well with the historic old cellar and we have much more to offer our guests. The new kitchen is more than double the size of the old one and fully equipped. The Tension Structure roof provides us with many options and weather shelter. The roof here is designed to handle winds of up to 140km/h!
We will not host any more functions at the plaza! A lot of people in the functions business thought we were crazy to stop hosting events, at the venue that won the International Wine Capitals of the World’s SA prize for the top functions and events in 2006. Some of our functions team thought the same!
We started with the first functions at the Vineyard Terrace in November and the bet turned out to be a good one. Word has spread quickly once people experienced the new venue and we are now flooded with enquiries.
In addition to the strong position we hold in the high-end wedding market, we will expand our offerings this green season to include a lot more corporate events, celebrations and the like. This will include special cooking courses with our chefs and sporting packages.
Matthew has already spoken to you re the new Cotage Fromage. We are delighted to have such an exceptional team as our food and beverage partners at Vrede en Lust. They do the catering for the Manor House and the functions, raising the bar dramatically.
I trust you will enjoy the courses they have prepared for you tonight and come back for more, for a long time to come.
Susan will talk to you a little bit about the wines next. It is a pleasure to have such a wonderful winemaker on board! As the Landbou Weekblad South African Woman Winemaker of the year for 2007, she has done us a great deal of proud. I believe this is only the start of what promises to be a stellar career.
Our wines have improved dramatically and I am convinced they will keep on improving. Our commitment is to make the kind of wines that you will love and reach for time and again!
My brother and partner, Etienne, has been a rock of support as we developed Vrede en Lust. Today he is responsible for more than 100 hectares of vineyards here, up the road at Babylonstoren and at our Elgin vineyards – Caseys’ Ridge. Caseys’ Ridge will come into production next harvest and promises to deliver exceptional fruit.
I would like to thank those who made this function possible: Louise van Wyk, our Mar-Com manager who coordinated all from our side and who has not slept well for the past week. Wiena Riedel, our Hospitality Manager, AnnaMart and Yolanda on the functions side, who have worked hard, as always, to ensure we can have a great time tonight.
Ann Wallace-Brown and her team from HWB, Flowers and Veronica from Petals who did the decor, Sterling EQ our entertainment for the evening and the team from Cotage Fromage. Last but nor least, I want to thank my PA Suretha Roberts and the rest of the team at Vrede en Lust, who all help to made it happen.
I hope that you have a wonderful time here tonight and that the food made by the Cotage team and our wines do justice to this fine setting and beautiful valley.
We are committed to becoming one of South Africa’s best-loved wineries by exceeding our customer’s expectations in every way. With your help, support and feedback I believe we will get there in time.