On 1 November Bonnievale Wines celebrated its 10th anniversary on the path that has seen the enterprise become one of the country’s largest producers. Rico Basson, MD of industry body VinPro was the guest speaker at the event.

With a history going back over half a century, Bonnievale Wines was formally established in 2006 through the three-way merger of the Bonnievale, Merwespont and Nordale co-operative wineries. It was arguably a first of its kind for South African agriculture.

With his finance and management background, John Barnardt was appointed as the man to lead the new phase in the position of chief executive officer. Speaking with hindsight, Bonnievale Wines board chairman Anton Smuts said Barnardt proved to be the ideal captain for the steering of the “amalgamated ship”.

“He was appointed to lead and supply the necessary ‘glue’ between parties with different viewpoints and expectations. He not only did this but also enhanced and improved the financial sustainability of the entity positively.

“John was not scared to add to the new Board’s strategy directives and in so doing added to the well-being of the Bonnievale group as a whole.”

A decade later and Bonnievale Wines is stronger than ever, backed by some 100 grape producers. Among the benefits that flowed from the merger was the consolidation of all assets and liabilities, creating a sizeable business; access to diverse grape growing area across a large region; and, the ability to attract a new level of talent and alliance partners.