Journey’s End on road to growth

South African premium winery Journey’s End has seen a huge upturn in sales in the first half of 2010, reporting sales growth of 500% over the period.

Following the early-2009 opening of its new winery and purchase of 12ha of vineyards from its former neighbour Mount Rosier Estate, the Stellenbosch producer has increased production from 6,000 to 11,000 9-litre cases.

In 2009 Journey’s End exported 60% of its production to two markets, UK and Denmark, but the company expects exports to rise to 80% in 2010, with recent new listings in 12 markets: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, Hong Kong, China, Kenya, Spain and France.

In keeping with its positioning, the focus in its new markets has been predominantly in the premium on-trade sector.

“Our production is growing just ahead of sales and this is so far 100% due to new plantings coming on stream through excellent soils and vineyards purchased over the past four years,” said Rollo Gabb, marketing director at family-owned Journey’s End. “We have been forced to buy in a small parcel of Chardonnay in 2010 vintage due to losing a significant amount (c.40%) of our production due to winds in November 2009.”

The Journey’s End philosophy is, said Gabb, ‘small is beautiful’. “We produce a finite amount of wine for very specialist premium distribution.”

The Journey’s End range includes the top-end Destination Chardonnay and The Cape Doctor Shiraz – named after the strong south-easterly wind that helps to keep vines healthy in South Africa.

Leading the export charge however are the Pastor’s Blend Cabernet/Merlot/Shiraz and Haystack Chardonnay (UK retail c. £10) and the Journey’s End Estate wines (UK retail c.£14), with the Shiraz and Chardonnay particularly popular in Hong Kong and China, and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot finding favour in Norway and Sweden.