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Graham Beck put fizz on the map

THE Graham Beck winery celebrated its 25th anniversary in suitably splendid style. When your primary business — at least from a visibility perspective — is fizz, it’s fit and proper to make a song-and-dance whenever an appropriate occasion arises.

While 25 years in the world of wine is hardly an eternity, in the modern South African wine industry it’s the span separating the era of institutional management from the free-for-all of today.

Graham Beck established his Robertson winery in SA in the days of sanctions and isolation. There was no formal export trade to speak of: KWV, as the buyer of last resort, acquired the not-inconsiderable surpluses of wine producers and dumped them onto the European markets via traders operating out of Rotterdam. These brokers miraculously transformed the provenance of the Cape bulk to wines of Eastern European origin, taking the lion’s share of the revenue to cover the costs of this bureaucratic sleight of hand. The net income accruing to growers didn’t cover the running expenses of their farms.


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