Niël Groenewald takes the winemaking helm at Distell

Niël Groenewald

Distell has made a new appointment as the company’s head winemaker.

Niël Groenewald, 42, with an MBA from UCT and a BSc Hons from Stellenbosch University, leaves DGB-owned Bellingham after 14 vintages as chief winemaker. In recent years, he was also responsible for the marketing of the brand.

“I love winemaking as much as I do the business of wine,” he says.

Now, in his new position at Distell that he takes up ahead of the 2018 vintage, he will be overseeing the production of South Africa’s largest wine portfolio. The company’s diverse and globally traded range extends from premium brands such as Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Fleur du Cap and Alto, all the way through to populist, mainstream offerings such as 4thStreet and Drostdy-Hof. His focus, however, will be on the high-end brands.

 Groenewald brings an exciting set of skills to the business, says Johan Venter, who leads Distell’s Centre of Excellence: Intrinsic and to whom he reports. “He has outstanding winemaking credentials and extensive experience in leading a top-performing team, but in addition, he brings a strong marketing sensibility, honed over years through his international exposure to South Africa’s key trading partners.

“His special area of interest is on how best to apply business intelligence to capitalise on fast-changing consumer and other market dynamics. This makes him ideally placed to work in close concert with our refreshed new marketing team.

“We’re confident that with his excellent winemaking track record, his very solid supply chain expertise and his tactical approach to marketing, Niël will provide astute direction and inspiration to our talented team of winemakers.”

Before joining DGB in 2004, he worked stints at Neethlingshof and Seidelberg, as well as Perdeberg and Kango co-operative wineries.