MAKING THE MAGIC HAPPEN
“Constantia Glen is not primarily a business venture,” says Alexander Waibel, “it’s a passion project. It would never have worked had we not assembled the right people.” From the gate-keeper and the harvesters to the estate manager and the man who drives the tractor – even to the CEO, Constantia Glen is built on solid, long-standing relationships.
CEO Horst Prader, originally from Innsbruck, has a 54-year relationship with the Waibels and has spent most of his adult life, along with his own family, in South Africa running their operations, from the BMD Knitting Mills then, to Constantia Glen now. “Horst’s philosophy, like that of my father’s, is behind the wine,” says Alexander. “If you make a quality product, you can survive as a business. They always stood for impeccable quality.” After Dieter’s death, Horst became a kind of mentor to Alexander and a strong bond formed. On a good day, you might find Horst walking at quite a pace up the vineyard tracks behind the manor house, accompanying Rosemarie Waibel (Alexander’s mother), a keen walker, towards her favourite trail on the Vlakkenberg.
Continuity is a watch word at Constantia Glen. Winemaker Justin van Wyk has been with the farm since its second harvest and many of the labour force, all from the same area in the Eastern Cape, have worked on the farm for decades. This ‘extended family’ includes senior security staff members Edward Mancam and Patrick Gobizembe, part of the permanent staff that oversees farm maintenance when not doing the vineyard’s summer canopy management. Both men have worked on the farm for over 20 years.
Then there’s estate manager Dawid van Aswegen and his wife, Myra, who heads up the tasting room – they’ve worked for the Waibels since 2002. “There’s a lot to be said for continuity,” says Alexander. “It’s in the way we learn about our vineyards and the way we value the people who work in them.”
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