We have lost a gem with Cobie’s passing

Cobie van Oort with one of the foals at Avontuur in 2014, delightful Miss Frankel. Picture: Carolyn Frost

We at Bolander are deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of Cobie van Oort of CVO Marketing, and the head of marketing for Avontuur Estate, at the age of 59.

Cobie was a true ambassador for the South African wine industry, especially the community wineries in our own winelands.

Her passion and creativity touched all those she met, and on many occasions, converted. She will be sorely missed as she leaves a legacy behind her.

From a personal point of view, my very first meeting is not one I would quickly forget.

Just having started working at Bolander newspaper, when our offices were still at the Habitat Centre, outside the Somerset Mall, I was scheduled to have a meeting with a certain Cobie van Oort at Avontuur Estate, to discuss advertising.

So off I went, not all too familiar with the location, and ended up driving right past Avontuur and going to the neighbouring estate, informing reception that I was here for said appointment with Cobie.

Needless to say there was a bit of a scramble, and as fate would have it, there was indeed a “Cobie” at the estate, but he was working up in the vineyards so it would take some time for him to come down to the office.

Realising something was amiss, I rushed back to the car, consulted my diary, and established I was at the wrong farm altogether, so dashed back down the R44 to Avontuur and was quite flustered (and by now late), when I informed reception I was here for my appointment with Cobie.

Well, Cobie swept in, all smiles and confidence, brushing my excuses aside and immediately making me feel welcome, at ease and offered to show me the estate.

Now I ashamedly admit my knowledge of wine was appalling back then, and in my nervousness to impress Cobie, I regaled her with a piece of knowledge, which to this day I have no idea where I acquired, as I certainly didn’t have that kind of creative imagination to make it up), and promptly told her how clever it was that a certain wine estate in the Helderberg grew red and white rose bushes, red to indicate the red wine grapes and white for the white wine grapes.

There was a slight pause, after which Cobie threw back her head and burst out laughing and then asked me, “Doll, where on earth did you hear that?”

And that was the beginning of my wine education at the feet of a connoisseur, and my journey with Cobie over the years to come.

If there was one thing I knew, it was that Cobie was passionate about the wine industry, especially South African wines.

I had the pleasure of participating in the many wine events arranged by her and husband Bjorn, and even when we got together to brainstorm ideas for upcoming events, there was always time for a glass (or two) of sauvignon blanc and having a chat afterwards about overseas trips, and life in general.

Her love for people, travelling, her family and especially her husband and partner, Bjorn, was always evident. Even though I was an advertising consultant, I learned so much about marketing from Cobie, as she was always eager to advise and share knowledge.

I even got to learn about horses and the exciting horse racing industry… what an eye opener!

I can honestly say, she wasn’t only a client, but she became a friend who I had the most respect for.

Cobie was always on top of things, many a time one step ahead, and I knew that if I ever needed a straight-up answer, she would give it.

Her honesty, energy and positiveness left a memorable mark on not only me, but so many.

Cobie had completed her post-graduate degree in journalism and marketing at North-West University in Potchefstroom, after which she was a journalist in print and radio media.

She then worked in retail for about 20 years, ending off at Shoprite/Checkers head office in Cape Town, as corporate advertising manager.

In 2001, she and Bjorn started CVO Marketing (Pty) Ltd, and due to an interest in and passion for the wine industry, the company has, during the past 15+ years, mostly handled work in that field, providing consultancy services to a wide range of winery clients such as Avontuur Estate, Boschendal (hospitality), Allee Bleue, Yonder Hill and Ayama.

Additionally, they conceptualised and managed wine events which included The Pinotage and Biltong Festivals, The Cabernet Franc Carnivals, The Cabernet Franc Challenge and the Tygervalley Centre and Cape Gate Wine Festivals. Our deepest condolences go to Bjorn, her parents and family, including her extended family at Avontuur and the winelands.

RIP 30/04/1961 to 24/06/2020