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

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.

1924

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

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.

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.

1930

Alternatives to wine are developed by KWV for
export. 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.

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.

1935

The Crayfish Agreement is signed with France. 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.

1939

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

1940

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

1942

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

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.

1951

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

1955

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

1958

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

1959

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

1964

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

1971

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

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.

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.

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

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.

1984

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

1989

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

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.

1992

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

1997

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

1999

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

2003

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

2004

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

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

2009

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

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.

2012

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

2014

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.

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.

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.

2016

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

2018

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.

2019

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.

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.