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Cape Classics Celebrates 25 Years

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Company’s Founder Looks Back on A Quarter of a Century and Forward to The Next 100 Years

NEW YORK, NY (November 20, 2017)—It is with great pride that Cape Classics announces the beginning of a yearlong celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the company’s founding. In 1992, native South African Andre Shearer moved to New York and co-founded a fledgling import business to introduce the wines of his home country to the American wine market. Today, that vision has grown into an international organization with offices in New York City and Somerset West, South Africa, representing 33 wineries and estates from both France and South Africa, including their own brands, Jam Jar, Braai and Indaba.  In addition, the company runs the Indaba Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, established three years ago by Shearer and his team. Though the company has grown tremendously in scope and size since its inception, its core values—a steadfast commitment to authenticity, a dedication to maintaining long-term relationships with its partners and a passion to bring positive change to the world—have not wavered.

“25 years ago we created a company from scratch that has positively impacted the lives of so many and achieved as much, if not more, than companies 10 times our size,” commented Andre Shearer, CEO of Cape Classics. “In various ways, we continue our work to change the historical inequities of South Africa by diligently focusing on improvement in the wineland communities in which we work. I’m incredibly proud that we have stayed true to our founding ideals of professionalism and ethics, and have worked very, very hard, year after year to always improve our service at all levels.”

When Cape Classics was founded, they began by working with just a handful brands in the U.S, of which three—Buitenverwachting, Excelsior Estate and Kanonkop—are still in the portfolio today. With the mission to bring the best of South African wine to the U.S., Shearer has continued that drive by partnering with some of the country’s finest wine estates. Among the portfolio is De Toren, nominated for New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast, and who has been with Cape Classics since their first vintage (1999). DeMorgenzon, who joined the Cape Classics portfolio in 2005, has received numerous awards including the most recent Top 100 Wine nod from Wine Enthusiast for their Maestro White Blend. The most recent South African brand to enter their portfolio is B Vintners, owned by Indaba winemaker Bruwer Raats and his cousin Gavin Bruwer Slabbert, and whose commitment to preserving indigenous varietals in the Western Cape is catching the attention of international media.

Once known exclusively for their high-quality South African wines, Cape Classics is yet again making a name for themselves with their rapid, yet purposeful, growth in France. Since just 2012, the importer has partnered with 14 domaines and estates, including Domaine Vincent Carême in the Loire, Domaine Philippe Colin in Burgundy, avant-garde viticulturist/micro-negociant Philippe Pacalet, and the most recent additions, Vins Auvigue of Burgundy (acquired from Treasury Wine Estates) and Petite Sirène (formerly with Monsieur Touton), produced by the famed Bordeaux estate Château Giscours.

“We decided to go even further in our search of quality and thought Petite Sirène was ready for wider distribution, specifically in the American market,” said Alexander van Beek, CEO of Château Giscours, Margaux Grand Cru Classé. “To achieve this, we needed a proven importer partner, with a global portfolio and proven track record of success. Cape Classics fit our requirements, and we were very enthusiastic to share this project with them!”

At the same time the company was pursuing its expansion into France, it was also turning its attention to the struggles in South Africa. From the start, Shearer has prioritized philanthropy and the concept of giving back—especially to the community in which Cape Classics operates— as a core business principle of the company, and recognized a current need for quality early childhood education. As the head of The Indaba Education Fund (IEF), a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2015, Shearer strives to bring change to the youngest residents of the Cape Winelands. The IEF supports early childhood education through the training and certification of teachers in the Montessori Method at the Indaba Montessori Institute (IMI).

“To make a difference, to build a foundation of a society differently, we need to educate children in a completely different way, and the Montessori Method and its philosophies are an extraordinary way to do that,” remarked Shearer.  “The IEF aims to provide these children with a much better chance of using their education to escape the poverty trap and realize their life’s dreams.”

Through private contributions and a percentage of sales of the foundation’s namesake, Indaba wines, the IEF has already realized its first significant goal; the very first training session at the IMI was completed in September this year. Support for the charity and its mission has come from all corners of the wine industry. In early October, during its inaugural fundraising event at Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York, guests included distributors MS Walker NY, MS Walker MA and Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. Total commitments secured since the very young non-profit’s inception, including generous donations received at the dinner, now total $700,000.

“We are now entering the ‘2nd Chapter’ of our business, with a much larger and different platform,” concluded Shearer. “Our next phase will be to capitalize on what we have been steadily building the last 25 years, and to grow dramatically. Our goal is to become a truly relevant and significant player in the French import business, and we expect that growth will further develop the South African side. That expansion will in turn support our work with the IEF, and the impact that will have on children and communities will broaden, as our reach blossoms. It’s truly an exciting time for our company!”

Cape Classics was recently nominated for Importer of the Year as part of Wine Enthusiast’s 2017 Wine Star Awards. For more information about Cape Classics, visit www.capeclassics.com.

ABOUT CAPE CLASSICS

Behind every farm, winemaker, bottle and grape lies an untold story.  Collectively, we discover these tales and share them with our customers. Demanding authenticity, Cape Classics operates the “old-fashioned” way, with relationships and social responsibility at the forefront of our business. The 33 wineries we represent throughout South Africa and France embrace sustainable eco and social practices, doing their part to help preserve lands for future generations while improving the human condition now. Our wines are expressive, crafted with passion and perspective, and delivered with the same hallmark levels of service and professionalism since 1992.

Additionally, a portion of the global sales from our Indaba brand is allocated to the Indaba Education Fund (IEF). A fully accredited 501(c)(3), the IEF invests in world-class Montessori teacher training, learning materials, and educational infrastructure for Early Childhood Development teachers within South Africa’s winelands and beyond.

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