Vivian Kleynhans

Agribusiness Entrepreneur 2016

Founder and CEO of African Roots Wines

Vivian Kleynhans

In 2005, Vivian Kleynhans started a wine marketing business under the brand name “Seven Sisters.” Immediately she and her company set their sights high, as they aspired to break into the wine markets of South Africa, the USA, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In 2007, the company shipped its first 20-foot container to the USA, where today Seven Sisters wines sell in 42 states. In addition, the company’s wines are marketed in Canada, China, Germany, and Nigeria. Ms. Kleynhans travels to these countries on a regular basis to market the wines and to attend international wine exhibitions.

As Ms. Kleynhans puts it, African Roots Wines began as “a virtual company,” because they had no land, cellar, or vineyards. Instead, the company sourced wines from some of the largest wineries in the Western Cape and branded them under the Seven Sisters label. As the company grew, Ms. Kleynhans saw the need for the company to produce its own grapes – and wine. Through the land restitution program of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, in 2009 African Roots Wines received a piece of barren land, which Ms. Kleynhans and three employees began to develop into a vineyard. At present, the vineyard employs six full-time workers and thirty seasonal workers. After years of waiting, the hard work will finally bear its fruit in August 2016, when the company plans to bottle wines from its first harvest. The farm is complemented by a warehouse, and in 2015, the company opened a building on the farm, which houses a wine tasting facility, a restaurant, and a conference venue. Through these extensions of the business, the company provides employment to a further 17 full-time and 60 seasonal workers. Being able to provide employment to so many individuals – and by extension, also benefit their families – is important to Kleynhans. While she is proud of the many accolades Seven Sisters wines have received in various wine competitions, she is equally proud of the fact that, through the company’s success, the community around them also benefits.

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