Alvi’s Drift is a 7000 tonne winery in the Breede River Valley. The winery is owned by the Van Der Merwe family, Bertie Van Der Merwe along with his 2 sons, Johan a lawyer who has been working on the property for 10 years, and Alvi, a medical doctor who has been on the property for 7 years. Alvi’s Drift is the name of the drift near the farm, crossing the Breede river. The Drift was built by Alvi’s grandfather in 1928.
The winery is only one part of a long running and successful business. The property is vast and diverse with a large dairy herd and facilities for the commercial packaging of milk, a cheese making facility, a piggery, citrus, stone fruit, fodder production as well as the 410ha of vines. Johan manages the dairy and piggery and Alvi manages the orchards and winery.
In line with the value adding strategy followed in the dairy and piggery, the Van Der Merwe family had built a winery to allow them to sell wine in bulk to a range of clients. The strategy puts them in a stronger position than many of their neighbors who deliver their grapes to cooperatives.
However, given the competitive nature of the wine industry, this business model didn’t allow for sufficient value adding in that the wine was sold in bulk and there was no trade mark involved. The success of the Alfalfa dairy brand was a catalyst for the Van der Merwe family to consider creating their own wine label and marketing their wines under their own trademark.
Alvi’s Drift did release a range of wines under the Alvi’s Drift label that to a certain extent were started off by Alvi as an interest and a hobby. The wines have been very successful in the show circuit and have received many awards and favourable reviews in a variety of competitions and wine publications respectively. However, the volumes were small and there was no structured approach to building a significant trademark.