Benicia, Calif.-based Culture Wine Co. launched as the sole importer, wholesaler, eCommerce retailer and wine club in the United States dedicated exclusively to the wines of South Africa.
Culture Wine Co. was founded by 15-year wine industry veteran Peter Andrews DipWSET, MBA. Andrews has held executive-level positions in the wine industry and taught wine business courses at Johnson & Wales University, The Culinary Institute of America, and for the WSET. He currently sits on the board of the Glancy Wine Education Foundation and serves as President of Culture Wine Co.
Culture Wine’s goal is to drastically increase the representation and import-value of South African wine in the United States. Although South African wine currently represents a small amount of U.S. import volume, the bulk of these imports are intended for the creation and exclusive sale of budget-friendly brands, the company notes. While this scenario has posed challenges in broadening awareness and appreciation for South Africa’s highly skilled producers, Culture Wine Co. aims to have a positive impact in reshaping how these wines are marketed, perceived and enjoyed in the United States, it says.
Culture Wine Co. believes there is an abundance of untold stories beyond the bottle itself, it says. Its mission is to shed light on the resilience of South African winemakers who overcome extraordinary challenges, such as a complete absence of government subsidies, daily load shedding, and navigating extreme weather events ― from flooding to frequent droughts, the company notes. The world-class quality, thriving community, vibrant culture and incredible stories of perseverance of its producers is unlike any other region in the world, according to the company.
“South African wine has steadily increased in quality in the nearly 30 years since the end of Apartheid,” Andrews said in a statement. “Its producers are now readier than ever to shine in their long-overdue time in the international spotlight.”
Megan Van der Merwe, winemaker and partner of processus at Beata America, City of Cape Town, South Africa, added: “As South African winemakers, we felt the international market saw us as drifting in a body of water without enough direction, it now seems the tides are changing in our favor. There’s a new generation of winemakers and creatives that are bringing something different to the table. Spaces and labels that feature unusual varieties have drawn young and diverse crowds and it gets us really excited about where the industry is headed.”
Culture Wine Co. focuses on developing long-lasting partnerships with its producers, imports and wholesales direct-to-trade in California, and retails direct-to-consumer throughout the United States through its eCommerce website. This eliminates the need for several entities touching the bottle before it’s consumed, ensures wine is not “lost” in large wholesale portfolios, and ultimately increases visibility of and value to South Africa’s independent producers, the company says.
“Now is the most exciting time to be buying and drinking South African wines,” said Kiara Scott Farmer, winemaker at Brookdale Estate, Paarl, South Africa, in a statement. “Winemakers and viticulturists around the country now truly understand their respective terroir ― the climate, soils and vines ― so the quality is world class. There’s also a great camaraderie between the winemakers and the local wine industry in general. It’s time for U.S. wine lovers to jump on the train because we’re going somewhere, and this is just the beginning of our latest and most exciting chapter.”
Culture Wine Co. offers consumers a direct connection to the producer with their Culture Wine Club. For $69 a month, wine lovers receive two bottles, free shipping, and the ability to forge a direct bond with the producer themselves through open, live interviews and conversations, it notes.
Wine club members receive 10% off all wines in the web store, anytime. The club also offers complete flexibility, the company says. Any time a customer would like to pause a shipment, they can do so. And for those who love to explore, the deal is sweetened with free shipping on any additional à-la-carte bottles that are shipped alongside the monthly wine club selection, it notes. For the most loyal customers, Culture Wine Co. will eventually plan safari and wine tours, it says.