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Exclusive: Cape Classics Boosts South African Portfolio with the Beach House, Boschendal, and Bellingham

September 2, 2021

Cape Classics has expanded its portfolio of South African wines, partnering with South African winemaker DGB to bring the Beach House, Boschendal, and Bellingham labels to the U.S. under the CC umbrella.  The move brings together two of the largest South African wine portfolios in the U.S., with Cape Classics CEO Rob Bradshaw estimating that DGB was among the top five producers of South African wine imported to the U.S.— a few places behind Cape Classics, the largest company in the category in the U.S. The new partnership will add 17 SKUs to the Cape Classics portfolio, which currently sits at around 160 offerings.

Bradshaw sees a bright future for the new wines in his portfolio, seeing Beach House as a strong entry point into the category, with Boschendal and Bellingham as attractive options for consumers trading up or for those interested in South African wine. “It was DGB who really brilliantly kicked open the door with Beach House to get Americans to try South African wines, ” said Bradshaw. “I love it because it’s a door opener to the category.”

Beyond seeing Beach House as a gateway for new consumers to enter the category, Bradshaw is excited about Boschendal’s rosé and the winery’s Elgin wines, which include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. As for Bellingham, Bradshaw and Cape Classics are focusing on the Bernard series of wines, which includes Old Vine Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, among other releases.

Bradshaw says that Cape Classics is benefitting from the overall swing toward more premium wines of the last few years. “In the last 24 months, our $20-and-up portfolio was up over 83% and our $30+ portfolio was up 27%. That’s for South Africa specifically,” said Bradshaw. “I would say historically 65% of our south African business would have been in the value range but I bet you that has shifted by 10% in the last year.”

Overall, bottled South African imports were at 570,000 cases in the U.S. in 2020, according to Impact Databank, down 35% from the previous year. Cape Classics is the dominant importer by far, with three of its largest brands—Jam Jar, Excelsior, and Indaba—accounting for nearly 40% of bottled South African imports. Jam Jar, in particular, has been a boon for the company. The Impact Hot Prospect was up 30.3% last year to 110,000 cases. Excelsior follows on its heels at 74,000 cases and Indaba comes in at 36,000.

According to Bradshaw, Jam Jar’s future has never been brighter. The company recently launched Sweet Blush, a wine aimed at offering a higher-quality sweet wine to fans of White Zinfandel. The brand also has a Sparkling Sweet Shiraz in the works, which is planned to hit the market next year. “We’re going to hit 15 to 20% growth this year,” he said. “I’m proud that we’re bringing people into that category.”

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