OUR HISTORY

Our History: In 1918, the year Nelson Mandela was born, South African wine farmers founded KWV (Ko-operatiewe Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika). The aim was to stabilise a young, but promising, industry.

1918  1930s  |  1940s  |  1950s  |  1960s  |  1970s  |  1980s  |  1990s  |  2000s  | 2008 until present

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1918

Dr. Charles W. H. Kohler is elected as KWV’s Chairman and becomes one of the most important figures in the Cape Wine industry in the twentieth century.

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1924

The KWV Act is passed and KWV becomes responsible for specific administrative responsibilities and also the sole exporter and importer of surplus alcohol.

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1926

KWV becomes one of the first brandy producers in the Cape. Bottling its first commercial brandy in 1926 which was exported to the UK.

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1928

Professor Abraham Izak Perold, the legendary botanist, ampelograph and wine scientist who developed the Pinotage grape, joins KWV and becomes responsible for the experimentation of new cultivars and to improve quality control processes.

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1930

Alternatives to wine are developed by KWV for export and these include a healthy grape juice drink as well as KWV Eau de Cologne, crafted by the Master Distiller, to be used as marketing material.

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1930

KWV’s impressive main cellar is completed. Captivated by its dome-like ceiling and the play of light in the beautiful space, it is named the Cathedral Cellar.

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1935

The Crayfish Agreement is signed with France and in return for importing South African crayfish, the French government holds exclusive rights to French geographical terms such as Champagne and Bordeaux being used on wine labels.

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1939

The outbreak of World War II causes exports to decline and domestic brandy consumption to increase. Then, KWV expands its export market to Africa and the East

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1940

KWV’s responsibilities expand to include determining the minimum
price for all wines.

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1942

A massive fire devastates the KWV cellars in Stellenbosch – a single barrel of prized KWV Brandy is salvaged and transported to Paarl.

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1949

Roodeberg is officially launched in 1949 and becomes one of South Africa’s most iconic wines, largely due to its scarcity value and the fact that it isn’t widely available in South Africa.

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1951

The father of KWV, Dr. Charles Kohler, chairs his last meeting at KWV and sadly passes away the following year

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1955

KWV celebrates 300 years of winemaking in the Cape with its fellow producers and winemakers.

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1958

La Concorde, KWV’s head office, is completed by Louw & Louw Architects. This sees the beginning of KWV’s extensive art collection.

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1959

A modern cellar with cold fermentation – one of the first of its kind – is built in time for the 1962 harvest.

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1964

KWV becomes a leader in wine education with a series of wine and food appreciation courses and films.

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1971

Serious natural wine shortages in the local industry force KWV to import large quantities of wine from Bordeaux.

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1972

KWV makes a significant contribution to the highly acclaimed South African Wine of Origin (WO) scheme that was initiated by KWV in 1972 and officially implemented in 1973 – a certification system which is respected worldwide. The WO system changed from a certification system to an origin system in 1979, and thanks to KWV and its various contributors, has continued to evolve into the highly lauded tour de force it is known for today.

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1974

The wine house concept is created by KWV to promote a culture around the appreciation of good food and wine in a social environment. Laborie Wine House is established in Paarl, Paddagang in Tulbagh, Kleinplasie in Worcester, Brandewyndraai in Robertson and Doornbosch in Stellenbosch.

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1979

KWV purchases 30% of Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery and Distillers Corporation, and together with Rembrandt, acquires the majority joint interest in Kaapwyn in a move to restructure the industry. This also opens up new distribution possibilities for KWV

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1980

A challenging political situation and consequent poor economy sees KWV developing new products such as flavoured wines to stimulate the local market. As a result, its grape concentrate business booms.

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1984

KWV plays a vital role in the establishment of the South African Brandy Foundation.

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1989

History: KWV is a founder member of the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA)

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1990

KWV plays a central role in regulating the industry until the early 1990s when world markets opened to South African wine exports after apartheid.

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1992

The revamped KWV Brandy cellar in Worcester is opened to the public as the KWV House of Brandy and it becomes an important and popular tourist attraction.

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1997

KWV converts from a co-operative to a company, with restrictions on trading of shares. In addition, it wins the President’s Award for export achievement

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1999

KWV starts paying funds to support the South African Wine Industry Trust (SAWIT).

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2003

Restrictions on KWV share trading are lifted and shares are made available to the general public .

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2004

KWV negotiates the South African wine industry’s largest BBBEE deal with Phetogo (Pty) Ltd, attaining
25,1% shares and for the first time, KWV products enter the local market with its branded wines and brandies

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2006

KWV launches its Diamond Jubilee Brandy (a blend of 10, 12, 15 and 23 year old brandies), to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary on the throne

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2009

KWV Ltd. becomes KWV Holdings Ltd. as part of an unbundling of its indirect interest in the Distell group

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2011

• KWV’s shareholder of reference, Zeder, sells its shares to Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI). The following year, HCI becomes the majority shareholder of KWV (52%), resulting in the company becoming a subsidiary of Niveus Investments (HCI).
• KWV makes history at the Veritas Wine Awards, winning the most Gold and Double Gold awards in show history, and is named Producer of the Year.
• KWV extends its RTD portfolio with the addition of Jimmijagga and Ciao.

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2012

KWV further extends its RTD portfolio with the addition of KWV 3 & Cola.

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2014

History: South Africa’s first Cognac is launched by KWV. The company unveils its KWV Heritage XO Cognac, the first to be produced under a South African brand name, as well as 30-year-old KWV Nexus, the world’s first commercially
available brand containing potstill up to 42 years old.

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2015

KWV’s 15-year-old Potstill Brandy wins the Worldwide Trophy for Brandy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) – making it the company’s 10th claim to this coveted title.

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2016

Vasari, a leading consumer focused investment group acquires KWV from HCI. Vivian Imerman, Chairman of Vasari said: “In retaining the KWV brand we recognise the proud heritage and exceptional brand equity. It is also a testament to our commitment to extending the brand’s legacy and its strategic growth across African and Asian emerging and frontier markets. The acquisition now makes it possible for us to broaden our offerings to customers in newer markets.

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2016

KWV is named as the Highest Ranked South African Wine Brand in Drinks International’s World’s Top 50 Most Admired Wine Brands.

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2018

History made: KWV releases its KWV Centenary Brandy, a blend of the very first brandy made by KWV in 1926, as well as brandy from the only barrel rescued from a fire that razed KWV’s historic cellars in 1942. The balance is completed with KWV’s rarest brandies, averaging 42 years of age.

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2019

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Roodeberg, the legendary red blend that has been bringing friends together the world over since 1949, celebrates its 70th anniversary

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2020

KWV is named Top Producer at the acclaimed Veritas Wine Awards and takes home the coveted Veritas Vertex Award for The Mentors Orchestra 2018, the highest scoring wine overall – a Bordeaux-style red blend.

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2021

KWV’s Chief Viticulturist, Marco Ventrella is named ‘Viticulturist of the Year’ by acclaimed UK wine critic, Tim Atkin (Master of Wine) in his annual South Africa Special Report.