Mischa Estate is so well known and established, we had to find out more about this jewel in Wellington. Mischa Estate was awarded a Gold award for their 2022 Heritage Collection Chenin blanc at the 2022 event.
Please tell us your name, a bit about yourself, and your role in the company.
We are Johan Calitz, winemaker at Mischa Estate Wines, and Lian Naude, marketing manager at Mischa Estate Wines.
Which of your wines are the favourites among younger consumers?
Younger is a relative term for our wine. We are very conscious of not promoting drinking to anyone under the age so, for us, younger consumers are actually late in their late twenties.
Johan: The Mischa Accordance Bordeaux Blend and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as our La Famille range which boasts two award-winning wines: a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon are definite favourites.
Lian: Yes, agreed. The price point makes these high-quality wines incredibly attractive. Everyone likes a good deal, especially a wine drinker!
Have you found a wine preference shift over the past few years, among younger wine consumers?
Lian: Absolutely. We’re seeing more adventurous palates among younger consumers. They’re not afraid to try new things and within this exploration, they tend to find their preferred cultivars and blends quite quickly. The result of this is a consumer who knows what they want, coming back time and again to purchase what they like. This is evident in the range of wine covered in our consumers’ favourites.
If you have to plant some vineyards today that you will make wine from in five years, for the younger consumers, what cultivars would you plant?
Johan: I would plant Malbec, a variety that is growing in popularity every year in South Africa. As Lian said, the younger consumers are very open to trying new cultivars and wines and having a larger supply of Malbec will, in my opinion, open the possibility of younger wine consumers being able to experience and enjoy a versatile wine like Malbec.
Lian: Oh yes, Malbec is certainly a variety that we would love to see more of – plus the Mischa Reserve Malbec 2021 was the National Winner at this year’s South African Novare Terroir Awards, which we’re really proud of.
How do manage your company image, and stay current and relevant, to appeal to younger consumers?
Lian: Adapt. Adapt. Adapt. Our main, day-to-day focus when it comes to marketing is in the digital space. We try our best to stick to our main strategy while adhering to the necessities of this ever-changing landscape. I don’t want to give away too much, but I can say that we aim for maximum visibility in having our wines available to key players in the online marketing and shopping industry, especially those that we know our younger and older consumers use.
Johan: A growing and exciting presence on social media platforms like Instagram is a very useful marketing tool to reach a younger audience, while being accessible to our older followers on other platforms as well. Online marketplaces are also a great way to reach younger buyers, as they are more open to buying products online.
What channels have you had success with, marketing to younger consumers, and does it change with time?
Lian: Between our various online partners and our own website and external channels like Takealot.com, we’ve been able to start building on a sweet spot where we reach all of our consumers at once in the methods that they prefer. Our older consumers like to buy from platforms they trust, while our younger consumers love a good special and will happily buy where they can get the wine they want at the best price. This behaviour, especially in our younger consumers, most definitely fluctuates based on anything from seasons, newsworthy events and fuel prices. They’re most certainly keeping us on our toes, but within that lies a reactive and proactive strategy that allows us to get what we need from them.
Johan: Online marketplaces together with social media promotions to direct people to our own website have been a good way to reach younger buyers. To add to what Lian has said, seasonal changes, interestingly enough, seem to change the buying patterns of younger buyers more than older clients. Younger clients also tend to be on the lookout for online specials.
Do you think there is any value in making use of social media influencers, and would you ever consider doing it, or have you perhaps tried this avenue before?
Lian: We’ve tried this avenue, and it’s certainly an interesting marketing technique. Unfortunately, for the most part, the popularity of an influencer’s account does not necessarily equate to an increase in sales, so we’ve got to look deeper at their audience and be careful who we partner with. That being said, if the fit is right, we’re happy to partner with an influencer to push sales and awareness.
Johan: Influencers are definitely a useful tool to help market wine and a lot of other products, for that matter, to younger buyers. We have tried using influencers before with varied success. Producers have to be very careful with using influencers, because the influencers promoting your product are representing your brand directly, which means you automatically become aligned with them, so the fit has to be right, yes.
How often do you consider changes to your packaging, or having to create new incarnations of your wines to appeal to younger consumers?
Johan: We are constantly looking at new packaging and how we can improve it to appeal to as many people as possible, while also providing all the necessary information to the client to create the most convenient buying experience.
Lian: Yes, we pay careful attention to what it is that our consumers need and what attracts them when it comes to packaging. However, drastic changes are kept to a minimum so that not only the wine, but also the Mischa Estate brand, become top of mind for each consumer.
What wine memory do you have as a young(er) person, when you fell in love with a particular wine?
Johan: The very essence of wine is memories. A memory that sparked the love of wine in me dates back to my student days at Stellenbosch University. Sundowners with friends on Stellenbosch mountain, with the idyllic town being lit by a multitude of colours synonymous with the “Eikestad”. We drank different wines: Sauvignon Blanc from Durbanville Hills, Rosé from Delheim and Merlot from Thelema. The bouquet of different flavours with picturesque views sparked a love for wine and the Cape Winelands that will last forever.
Lian: Oh goodness, so many! But if I had to choose one, it’d be a spontaneous Franschhoek wine tasting I did about 15 years ago, where we were introduced to the Glen Carlou Unwooded Chardonnay and then, on that same day, the Glenwood Wooded Chardonnay. The stark differences, yet undeniable similarities between the two incredible wines is where I became hooked on the WHY’s of wine. Why am I tasting that? Why is that so crisp? Why is this one so beautifully dusty? Why is this one so heavy? And the exploration of that WHY has always resulted in incredible conversations with winemakers, sommeliers and wine lovers, which generally leads to the introduction of a new wine, which sparks the WHY’s again. A wonderful cycle.
Can you tell us something that is unique about your estate perhaps?
An interesting, but random, tidbit about Mischa Estate is that, on a clear day, you can see Table Mountain, 81 km away, directly from our vineyards! It’s quite spectacular and well worth the drive out to our Estate for our private wine tastings (which you can book online).
Further to this, our region allows us to grow an amazing variety of wines. Our Estate is quite hilly, which means we get to use the slopes and folds to grow many different cultivars, some of which make it into the bottle solo, while others are used to create award-winning blends.
Finally, every grape that goes into every bottle is hand-picked, making each bottle a labour of love! This method ensures that we stick to what nature intended by not getting involved with large, harmful machinery. This practice also allows us to support our local community, leading to social, fiscal and personal upliftment and empowerment. The philosophical and philanthropic implications of the practice of hand-picking our grapes are a massive part of why we are able to produce award-winning wines year after year, and we pride ourselves in having continuously done so for three generations.