Wine Producer of the Year: Flagstone

27 August, 2008
Page 46 
Early October saw the announcement of a buy-out that surprised many observers, yet delighted much of the South African wine industry. Constellation Brands, the world's biggest wine company, was to acquire Flagstone, the Somerset West producer rated in the top echelons among the South African wine cognoscenti.

The move is significant as it represents a commitment to the premium South African wine sector from the company which added the country's biggest brand name, Kumala, to its portfolio in 2006 .

"Kumala competes successfully at the volume-driven, lifestyle sector of the market," said James Reid, operations director at Constellation Wines South Africa, adding that the company had been " looking to build our South African range to meet global demand for premium and luxury wines".

Flagstone's former owner and winemaker, Bruce Jack, has something of a maverick reputation and has built up a cult following . Some have aired fears of a "dumbing down " of Flagstone's wines under its new ownership, but the alternative view says that Jack will bring a welcome dose of individuality to Constellation's corporate set-up.

Either way, with Jack remaining in a supervisory role over the whole of Constellation's South African portfolio, including Kumala, there are interesting times ahead for the South African wine industry.