Thursday, April 24, 2014


Nederburg Wine Farms, owned by Distell, has sold its vine plant improvement facility on the farm Ernita near Wellington. It has been bought by Bosman Adama (Pty) Limited, owners of family-run nursery, Lelienfontein Vine Growers. The purchase sum has not been disclosed.

The sale, says Distell's head of wine and grape buying, Erhard Wolf, will allow the Nederburg farming operation to focus on its core wine-growing activities.

Lelienfontein Vine Growers, also in Wellington, has taken over Ernita's gene pool and biological assets and is renting and maintaining the existing plant improvement facilities on the farm. It is also taking up all the facility's long-term plant material supply contracts. The five staff members involved are being retained by the new owners.

Bosman Adama, headed by MD Petrus Bosman, is structured as a BEE enterprise. Its vine-growing arm, established in 1947, is run by the Bosman family, master grafters and vine growers since 1888.

Ernita's plant improvement facility was established in 1974 to address the significant shortage of quality vine plant material at the time. In the intervening years it has produced a significant gene pool of noble cultivar clones, giving the six farms within the Nederburg Wine Farms grouping, and also the operation's supplier growers, access to top-quality vines and plant material of newer cultivars.

Wolf explained that following the restructuring and liberalisation of the wine industry at the end of the 20th century, a far wider availability of new clones of mainstream and newer varieties had emerged. Consequently, the need for Nederburg to generate material for its own use had fallen away.

"With the plant improvement facility now in the expert hands of specialists at Lelienfontein Vine Growers, we can direct all our resources to vineyard management and ongoing research into improved viticultural protocols," he said.  "The impressive skills base of the new owners, coupled with the expertise of the team joining them, gives us every confidence in maintaining access to excellent quality vine material and also exclusive access to strategic cultivars."

Nederburg will use Ernita as a production farm and to research viticultural techniques for application across the Distell Group.

Lelienfontein Vine Growers manager, Jannie Bosman said he was excited to tap into Ernita's capacity, technology and access to the latest technology. The operation would be using Ernita for maintaining and developing its own gene pool and service agreements with leading table and raisin grape industry role players.

"The deal places us in an ideal position to proactively fast-track sought-after vine grape plant material for the benefit of our customers and the wine, table grape and raisin sectors of the industry. "