Interview with UFI Global Congress 2017’s Keynote Speaker, Johan Reyneke, Founder & Owner of Reyneke Wines in South Africa (Part 2 of 2).

Stephanie Selesnick: Please share your Cornerstone program encouraging home ownership and education for the winery’s workers and their families. How did it come about and where do you see it being in five years from now?

Johan Reyneke: This ties in with biodynamics (part 1). We have to look after nature, profitability and people (who comprise the 3rd leg of the chair of our endeavors). What prompted the program was my involvement with this industry. As a farm laborer initially, I saw how hard the people work, how crucial they are to the business, and how little recognition was received. What can we do? Recognize it their important contributions and say thank you? Do you stop at thank your or do you do more?

We decided to ask our workers what they wanted – did they prefer something transactional or something empowering? The decision was made to be transactional and focus on housing & education for their families. Unfortunately, we had a disappointing 50% success rate.

With time comes better insight. The farm has grown significantly in size as has the winery and number of workers. The view now is that a trade (empowerment) is often more sustainable than aid. I’ll share what we did to renovate the program and where we are now.

Stephanie Selesnick: What are your favorite exhibitions and trade fairs to attend, and why?

Johan Reyneke: I go to a few, but not many. I work with a distribution company in South Africa and for each Province; they have an annual trade fair. It’s a quick way to meet with potential clients and existing clients. In the US, we work with Vineyard Brands and they have an annual conference.

Stephanie Selesnick: What is the philosophy behind selling Reyneke wines around the world?

Johan Reyneke: Reyneke Wines are sold in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. If you look at nature, you get stability through diversity. The more diverse the plants, animals and insects, etc., the more stable and thriving the ecosystem. It’s the same thing for business. Managing risk is key. But not having all of our wines sold in just one country or region, we mitigate risk in case there are issues in one region or another that would negatively impact sales.

See Johan Reyneke give the Keynote on Thursday, November 2, 2017 from 09:15-10:00 at the UFI Global Congress.

Click here to view part 1 of this interview: “Sharks, biodynamic vineyards and the exhibition industry”.