New Hemel-en-Aarde vineyard seeks investors

A new vineyard in South Africa, co-founded by the Newton-Johnson family and Roland Preens, is offering a “unique” chance to invest in one of the Cape’s most exciting winemaking areas, Hemel-en-Aarde.

Hemelzicht Vineyards is a new, 60 hectare, vineyard in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley and the first in South Africa to offer shares in the business to the public.

Ownership in the business starts at 1 million rand (£48,100/US$65,500) with dividends being paid out through a mixture of wine (220 bottles a year by 2026), accommodation at the property (for 15 nights) and cash.

Investors will also have the opportunity to make wine at the estate, which is to be overseen by Nadia and Gordon Newton Johnson.

Over 50% of the available shares have already been snapped up with investors coming primarily from South Africa and the UK, as well as the US, Europe and Far East.

Located in an area which is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best places in the Cape for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is precisely what the estate will produce (alongside some Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz), with an estimated production of 110,000 bottles a year eventually as there are sites on the estate that have not yet been planted.

CEO Roland Preens, said: “Hemelzicht Vineyards presents a rare opportunity to buy into a wine business in the heart of the Hemel-en-Aarde, among top Pinot Noir producers such as Newton Johnson, Hamilton Russell, Storm and Crystallum.

“No other wine category sells out as fast as Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir. There is low supply globally, and this farm is in a prime position to produce world-class wine. With 50% of the shares already spoken for, we are also assured of the demand for this type of unitised investment.”

Speaking further with the drinks business, Preens said that the idea had been in motion for a year and with his departure as CEO of online retailer Winecellar.co.za, the plan had always been to launch the investment scheme this January, Covid or no Covid.

And, he added, “now’s a good time to meet people, connect with people. I’ve been ‘Zoom-ing’ all around the world with investors, potential investors.”

The uptake and interest from around the world is striking too. Preens admitted that even five years ago this sort of venture might not have been possible but, “with South African wine arising, it’s really entering the consumer fine wine market now and with our weak currency and low base, the wines are underpriced and we can take advantage of that.”

Fine Pinot and Chardonnay from the Cape are two styles which are in high demand and low supply. Preens said that any merchant in Cape Town or London would say they’re wins they wish they could get more of, with trailblazers such as Hamilton Russel, Hannes Storm, Newton Johnson and Crystallum having created strong followings for these wines.

“It makes excellent business sense to produce fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” continued Preens, “and we really are in a good position to fulfil that demand.”

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