Wine portal marks 21st anniversary

Judy and Kevin chilling out, and looking forward to the big celebrations for their 21st.

Building a business is one thing, but to sustain if for 21 years is quite a feat.

Local wine portal, www.wine.co.za, is celebrating 21 years this year, having registered the URL wine.co.za as proud South Africans in the early days in 1996, when the internet was just a buzzword.

Schoolmates from Queen’s College, Kevin Kidson and Chris van Rooyen, started wine.co.za in 1996, with Kevin’s wife, Judy Brower, joining in 1999.

Chris has lived in Somerset West for many years, and in the early days, both Kevin and Chris’s branded kombis could be seen around the winelands.

Chris is no longer with wine.co.za but remains a good friend.

The business was started while Judy and Kevin still lived in Hout Bay – with many a winemaker schlepping out to do tastings at the bowling club, including Adi Badenhorst, Pieter Ferreira and Kobus Deetlefs.

After a few years of pounding the highways, the couple decided that they needed to be closer to the winelands and started looking for the ideal place to move to.

“We looked everywhere within a two-hour radius of Cape Town, in order to take our business to the next level – and also raise our kids. We went on many trips with the little ones in our beloved kombi into the country to test out places like Riebeek Kasteel and Stanford,” says Judy.

“We eventually settled on our house in Heldervue, which, athough hideous at the time, was a perfect spot to have an office, a family and be close to the beach, the winelands, Hermanus (near my mum) and the city for our cultural fixes,” she says.

For the first 10 years the business was run from an annex next to the house, with Judy regularly slipping back to the house to make sumptuous meals – and Kevin bringing back popcorn and beer.

All early business decisions were discussed with all staff around the kitchen table, where many bottles of wine were “tasted”.

Over the years, their home was renovated, the office expanded and in 2011, they took the big step to buy their own warehouse/office space – and moved to Kingfisher Park in the Interchange in February 2011.

They settled in their team and off the family went, to explore Europe for a three-month sabbatical in a campervan.

While wine.co.za was initially an information portal only, this was expanded to include a wine club and shop, with the first delivery of wine going to local resident Glynis Newton.

After moving to Somerset West, the business grew steadily, increasing its staff from four to eight, and now it employs 12 people, five of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years.

Judy and Kevin are both keen on music, and some of you may know of their legendary Open Mics – aka Solstice Soiree’s -where they invite local musicians – old, young, experienced and fresh to share their talent with those attending these events.

To celebrate wine.co.za’s 21st, they would love you to join them and others at their fun #tastesunshine Braai Day Family event at The Shed, off Annandale Road, on Sunday September 24.

Fires will be lit, just take your braai goodies to throw on the coals.

Top chenins and pinotages will be available for tasting, with commemorative wines on sale too. There will be lots to do with music, games and fun activities for all, and a special performance of the Suiderkruismis – an exuberant South African celebration for up to 80 SATB voices, to be sung in English, Afrikaans, Latin and Xhosa – written by the talented Andre Strijdom.

Tickets cost R120, and R60 for children, and can be booked ahead at www.wine.co.za/tickets