This is the first American and South African joint wine-making venture within the global wine community. California’s first lady of wine, Zelma Long, her viticulturist husband Dr Phil Freese and US based fine wine merchant Bartholomew Broadbent have joined forces with Mike Ratcliffe from Warwick Estate to produce a high end brand specifically targeted for the US and UK market.
This quality driven team of wine specialists blends a unique combination of knowledge, skills, international perspective, and international recognition. The Vilafonté project aims to create the first Luxury Wine brand from South Africa.
The head winemaker for the Vilafonté project, Zelma Long, is one of America’s best known winemakers with an enviable international reputation.She was one of the first women to study oenology and viticulture at UC Davis and began her career at Robert Mondavi Winery, rapidly working her way to chief winemaker. After 10 years, Zelma was recruited by Simi Winery in Sanoma County which was later acquired by Moet Hennesey, under whom she worked for the next 18 years as both winemaker and CEO. She has won many awards, among them the prestigious James Beard award for Wine Professional Of The Year , and the MASI award for International Wine Contribution. Zelma has sometimes been described as ‘fanatical’ in her pursuit of quality winemaking.
Bartholomew Broadbent is responsible for distribution in the USA. He owns and runs one of the most prestigious small importers in the USA – Broadbent Selections. He was named by Decanter magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in the wine world.
Michael Ratcliffe, a leader in the Cape wine industry is the general manager of Vilafonté and managing director of his family wine estate Warwick. He participated in reigniting the concept for a “Cape Blend” (Pinotage dominated blend) which has since become an integral part of the Cape high-end wine offerings. He is a board member of the generic export promotion board for the SA Wine industry – WOSA and maintains a key involvement in black economic empowerment through his board membership of The South African Wine Industry Trust (SARWIT).
Dr Phil reese is the wine grower and creator of the Vilafonte vineyard which he calls “Different by Design”. Phil initiated the remote sensing project with NASA that has spawned a new wave of tools for viticulture analysis and quality enhancement. Subsequently, he established his own Viticulture practice, and in the last decade has consulted to some of California’s best wineries and South Africa’s key wineries such as Warwick, Rustenberg, Thelema and De Wetshof. This has been invaluable to his understanding of South African Terroir.
Vilafonté PO Box 2, Elsenburg 7607, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)21 884 4410
Fax: +27 (0)21 884 4025