On 17 April 2015, the Stellenrust Wine Estate formally received its cheque of R20 000 as one of the winners in the inaugural Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, held in August 2014. As per the stipulations of the competition, Stellenrust will invest the money in a project that will benefit its workforce – in this case, purchasing computer equipment for a facility it had been in the process of establishing.
Tertius Boshoff, Cellar master at the Stellenrust Wine Estate, admits he enjoys winning awards almost as much as he enjoys the awards themselves.
But he’s also embracing the opportunity offered by the R20 000 that Stellenrust won in the inaugural Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge in 2014, hosted by the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa (CBA) and sponsored by Standard Bank for three years from 2014-2016. The estate was named in the top 10 for its Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2014, described by the judging panel as “really flavourful”.
Unlike most wine competitions – which generally reward the winemakers – the Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge instead stipulates that the prize money “must be used to reinforce the economic and social benefits in the workplace and to the workforce”.
At Stellenrust, the money comes as a handy windfall that will be invested in one of its ongoing projects. The estate runs an aftercare service, and recently added a computer room for use by its employees and their children. The Chenin Blanc money will go towards the purchase of computers and other equipment for the facility.
The estate – one of the largest producers of bush vine Chenin Blanc in Stellenbosch – wins both ways, notes Mr Boshoff; it’s able to improve the living conditions of its workforce, while also reaping the rewards of having its wine listed as among the finest in the country.
“We build our business around Chenin Blanc,” he said when accepting the prize money on behalf of Stellenrust from Willie du Plessis, Head of Business Banking: Western Cape at Standard Bank, at a small ceremony on 17 April 2015. “So we welcome every award, and for us it’s not really about the money.”
This is exactly the aim of the Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge – to give valuable exposure to the varietal, explains Ina Smith, Manager of the CBA. “Chenin Blanc is now getting the recognition it deserves, and the top 10 is just a snapshot of the greatness that awaits the consumers.”
Standard Bank chose to back the competition because of the value the wine industry adds to the country, both as an earner of foreign exchange and as a job creator, noted Standard Bank’s Mr Du Plessis. “As a bank we want to invest in and support the wine industry to grow,” he said. “In this case we looked at a particular cultivar, a cultivar that we believe will grow and offer consumers something different.”