Kleine Zalze Quest for Wine and Brand Excellence in New Hands

Top image: Carina Gous

Kleine Zalze, the leading Stellenbosch wine estate and tourist destination, has announced the promotion of its sales and marketing executive Carina Gous to that of general manager, with cellarmaster RJ Botha now head of all wine production. Gous follows Johan Bestbier, who retired at the end of August 2022.

Earlier this year Kleine Zalze was purchased by French wine company AdVini, which also owns five other Stellenbosch properties, namely L’Avenir, Le Bonheur, Ken Forrester Wines and Stellenbosch Vineyards.

Gous, a well-known figure in the Cape wine industry with over 30 years of experience, joined Kleine Zalze in April 2020. Here she has spearheaded marketing and sales of one of South Africa’s most successful wine brands in terms of commercial success and its offering of various ranges of top-quality wines that have received numerous local and international awards.

Gous says Kleine Zalze will continue the vision of the previous owner, Kobus Basson, of consistently producing great wines reflecting South Africa’s astounding diversity in terroir and its excellence in various grape varieties.

“With the solid foundation laid by the Kleine Zalze teams over the past two decades, we are keeping to the principles of offering top-quality wines made in various pricing tiers to suit the pockets of our consumers and catering for a diversity of consumption occasions, whilst continuing to over-deliver in the price-to-quality ratio,” she says. “This has made Kleine Zalze one of South Africa’s leading brands locally, as well as internationally. Being a part of the AdVini family we are privileged to now tap into that company’s global footprint. Already exporting around 70% of our wine production, we hope to improve profitability and increase the global awareness of Kleine Zalze and South Africa as a force in the global wine space.”

While the core focus remains Kleine Zalze’s familiar label bearing the ‘Z’-slash, Gous highlights other recent developments on the wine front.

“Under RJ Botha, our cellar team has developed a curated Project Z brand with artisanal packaging complementing a range of limited-release wines made in innovative styles from a selection of unique vineyard sites,” says Gous. “Kleine Zalze has also set up a joint company with the Kleine Zalze Empowerment Trust. The company, trading as Visio Vintners, recently released the Visio Vintners range of wines and intends to build a successful and sustainable brand over the next decade to ultimately better the lives of employees and their families. All these new developments aim to unlock value for the brand owners as well as employees, ensuring that on a business level Kleine Zalze is positioning itself as a wine brand at the cutting-edge of developments in the local wine industry.”

RJ Botha

Botha says that Kleine Zalze’s access to prime vineyard locations in Stellenbosch and select other regions in the Cape winelands will continue the winery’s quest for the best possible quality throughout the diverse wine range.

“Over the past two decades, Kleine Zalze has gained an incredible reputation for quality, both from our local and international customers as well from the wine critics and competition judges,” he says. “We will especially continue to increase our footprint in the offering of especially Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch and Chenin Blanc, with a focus on Heritage Vineyards, also known as Old Vines.

“Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah form the supporting cast. These are all varietals where we have shown our ability to craft wines of superior and recognized quality as well as commercially successful high-volume wines. Our Cap Classique range is also set to be expanded considering the growing success of this category. And stylistically, my cellar team is constantly looking at ways of further improving styles of the wine-offering using for instance amphorae and concrete eggs.

“Kleine Zalze has always encouraged its winemakers to grow with the brand, which for us in the cellar has been a tremendously rewarding process, no doubt a major reason for the continual improvement in our wine quality.”

Botha says the relationship with grape growers remains at the heart of what Kleine Zalze can offer. “We have built an enviable portfolio of vineyards in some of the Cape’s best sites, nurturing our relationships with growers the way they nurture the vines for us. These include some of the best old vine Chenin Blanc vineyards in the country, stupendous Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, and an array of cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc. With these building blocks in place and the brand ethos of Kleine Zalze, we are sure to head into our next chapter on a continued level of success and recognition – not only for our brand but for the South African wine category as a whole.”