Partnership Award: Gijima KZN and the Stable Wine Estate
Funding from Gijima KZN, a local economic development programme set up by the KwaZulu-Natal government and funded by the Eurpean Union has done much to expand the economic base of the Province.
Stable Wine Estate received funding from Gijima KZN for extensions to its winery, vineyards and restaurants as well as equipment. Marketing director Judy van Niekerk says that the Gijima KZN funding and support has made a huge difference to the estate. The new machinery and equipment has improved the yield by 25 percent. This has pushed the cost of production down and increased profits. Both the Stables and Gijima are extremely excited about this venture because of its novel nature. The overall aim of the funding is to increase the competitiveness of the estate to ensure sustainability and thereby create employment.
The Stables Wine Estate was established on an old horse stud farm by Tiny and Judy van Niekerk just outside Nottingham Road, among the rolling hills and the farmlands of the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal midlands.
In a very short space of time the winemakers have achieved what many regarded as the impossible and have broken new ground in the wine industry. Firstly they made history in 2005 by having KwaZulu-Natal designated as a new Wine of Origin area, and then again in 2006 when they released the first ever certified KwaZulu-Natal Wine of Origin wine.
Currently, The Stables has two different ranges of wines. The KwaZulu-Natal range, which is produced at The Stables Wine Cellar from fruits harvested from the KZN vineyards. The second, the Nottingham Road range, is produced from grapes grown in the Cape by Tiny and Judy from vineyards that are managed, harvested and controlled to strict specifications. This allows Tiny and Judy to produce wine in the same style as the KwaZulu-Natal range.
The KwaZulu-Natal Wine Growers Association has also now been established and the Stables current plans are to work with the local municipalities in the region to mentor vine growers as a local economic development project. Early reviews suggest that KwaZulu-Natal’s climate and soils could make it the “champagne region” of South African wine.
In early 2008 Judy Van Niekerk was honoured for her pioneering role in the establishment and promotion of the wine industry in KwaZulu-Natal at the internationally respected Women and Wines of the World Awards, where she was celebrated as the woman winemaker of the year.
The estate also received another award at the prestigious Tourism KwaZulu- Natal Service Excellence awards. This time they were one of two Special Recognition awards presented at the annual function – the other went to the international smash hit acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The future of The Stables Wine Estate is filled with possibilities. With the support of Gijima KZN, the Estate has achieved what was thought impossible, and will continue to be the pioneers of the wine industry in the KwaZulu-Natal region.