Caryl and Rowan purchased the farm Groenland between Robertson and Bonnievale in 2003 – about eighteen years ago.
With an itch to buy a small farm due to the couple visiting the ‘platteland’ and experiencing the restful environment. Most weekends for Rowan include running half marathons, and the fit would be perfect.
Since then, however, they have not had much rest, but they love the atmosphere and friendliness of the people in the valley. The farm itself and its buildings were in a mess – just a few grapes and plenty of vegetables.
The guests of Esona have always loved the experience in The Kuip, an underground wine cellar beneath Caryl’s Bistro. This has become one of the reasons so many come from far and wide to try the wines for the first time, while also learning about the land, and how to improve their knowledge of wine.
Unknown new brands are difficult to get listed in large retailers or at wine shops. Therefore, we’ve focused on outlets in the Robertson Valley, sales at Caryl’s Bistro on the farm, online shopping, and a selection of restaurants that like our wines and offer them on their menu, or alongside certain dishes.
It hasn’t been a smooth journey while learning the wine industry, although it has been exciting.
But then, COVID-19 arrived – four Lockdowns, at a total of 23 weeks while closing Caryl’s Bistro, and ensuring the staff were safe – South Africa went completely dry.
This resulted in zero sales, yet, overheads and expenses continued. This proceeded with dropping grapes to the ground as the larger wineries no longer needed them.
At Esona, the policy has been that no one will be made redundant. It’s been tough, at times, but we’ve always come through.
The empty hours have been spent upskilling, painting the buildings, tending to the vines, and more. Training has been our main focus, covering every basis to make sure the team can always be prepared for anything that may happen, as well as our plans for the future.
We hope that sales will increase across the country to keep our wonderful farms, families, and communities alive, so they may continue the legacies they have started…