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The story behind the wine...
Great Domaines was established in 2000, when it started importing fine wine from a handful of top domaines in Burgundy, France. Right from the start, our focus has been on importing domaines that are at the very top of the qualitative scale in their respective regions.
The first wine officially imported by Great Domaines was the 1999 vintage from Burgundy domaine, Jacques-Frederic Mugnier. In the beginning 6 domaines were imported regularly and now the Burgundy portfolio has grown to 26 domaines. Today our portfolio stretches across 86 producers, including the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Didier Dagueneau, Vega-Sicilia, Sassicaia, Soldera, Jean-Louis Chave and Château Petrus.
The backbone to our success lies in the direct and personal relationships we have with each one of our producers and domaines. This bond allows us the privilege of importing wines that you would struggle to find elsewhere in the fine wine market, especially Burgundy. We value these relationships very highly and make at least one trip each year to visit our producers and maintain these relationships, as well as keep up-to-date with the goings-on in the vineyard.
Since the very beginning, Great Domaines’ goal has been to focus on giving wine-lovers in South Africa the opportunity to buy and drink fine wine from some of the most revered domaines in Europe. We hope to provide a window into what makes these people and their wines so special.
We take the provenance of our wines very seriously. We ensure that a strict cold-chain is maintained from the producer to our cellars in Johannesburg. We monitor the entire journey using eProvenance technology, which measures transport temperatures for the duration of the journey. Once received, all wine is kept at 10° C in our temperature- and humidity-controlled cellars - equipped with standby generators in case of power failure.
The people behind Great Domaines
Great Domaines was started by Wayne Visser and was born out of his pure passion to share great wine and great food.
After studying law and completing his two year stint at the army Wayne skipped between working at the various Longhorn steakhouses in Johannesburg between 1984 and 1987.
His food and wine interest continued to develop when taking up a position at the internationally styled restaurant, Gatrilles & Son. After leaving in 1988 he began to focus on what he currently does full time, which is run a financial services company.
Wayne began buying wine for his personal cellar from various fine wine merchants in London in the early 1990s, and the passion developed further in the late 1990s when frequent trips to Burgundy were experienced. The purpose of the trips was primarily to seek out and buy/import wines which were elsewhere unavailable.
Thus Great Domaines was born.
Venetia handles all finance issues at Great Domaines. She enjoys gardening, crafts and of course drinking wine.
When asked about her experience at Great Domaines, she said “I love working at Great Domaines, It is a company made up of individuals who are driven by passion - it is dynamic and happening. Over the last ten years I have had the privilege of meeting the wine makers and their families and the many customers who over time have become friends and with whom I have shared many a glass.”
Derek Kilpin first started in the wine industry in 2000 when he worked at various wineries in Stellenbosch whilst completing his BSc degree. Most notably was the period at Waterford wine estate hosting tastings, cellar tours and just before leaving assisting in the winery during harvest. Holiday work at Asara wine estate continued to fuel the growing passion. He then left and went to Dublin in 2003 and after a temporary job at McHugh’s liquor merchants he found a more permanent position working with respected merchant Vaughan Johnsons. When his visa expired, he left Dublin on a four year stint to cut his teeth in arguably the world’s most sophisticated fine wine market, London.
Most notable was spending a year at Fine and Rare wines, a fine wine brokerage offering one of the widest selections of fine wine from around the world. Not content with tasting enough of the fine wine he was selling, he found employment with a traditional English merchant, Decorum Vintners. Invaluable experience was gained travelling to Spain, France and Italy to visit and taste at the various estates and their impressive portfolios. Before leaving he completed the advanced level examination from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. 2007 was when Derek returned home determined to somehow continue working with the fine wines of Europe. After meeting Wayne Visser and at the same time of Great Domaines securing the distribution of one of the world’s great champagnes, Pol Roger, his goal was realized.
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Paul first started in the wine/liquor industry in 1994 when he worked at Rebel Piccardi Liquors as branch manager. Thereafter he moved on to Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (SFW) for a period of 6 years whilst servicing the Durban area. During this period he completed his IMM along with his level 1 and level 2 certificates with the Cape Wine Academy. His career continued with a large wholesaler and redistributor of liquor and wine between 2001 and 2002, also in Durban.
In keeping with the beverage market, Paul then moved up to Johannesburg in 2003 and joined South African Breweries on the soft drink side (ABI) where an additional 8 years of servicing the hospitality trade along with retail and wholesale in the greater Johannesburg South areas. During this time he continued his studies and obtained his MBA degree through Milpark Business School.
Urgently wanting to return to the wine industry, Paul found himself looking after Key accounts for a Hotel Group, where his knowledge and experience of the hospitality industry were further entrenched.
Early in 2016, he then decided enough was enough and the urge to finally return to the wine industry was realized. Paul has since joined the Great Domaines team as Sales Manager.
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Simon got bitten by the wine bug while attending the University of Cape Town between 2004 and 2006. A Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and History was paired with the Cape’s finest juice and after further studies in a Postgraduate Diploma in Enterprise Management; it was time to get stuck into the professional world of wine.
Fresh out of university, Simon got a job as a trainee Sommelier at Cape Grace Hotel in 2007 and while beginning a series of courses at Cape Academy, he heard of a career opportunity at Wine Cellar in Observatory for a general assistant. It was here where Simon first threw himself into the realm of fine European wines.
The true romantic that he is, Simon followed his heart to São Paulo in 2011 after meeting the woman who was to later become his wife. While in Brazil he helped a friend open a wine importing company and when the opportunity to join Great Domaines presented itself, Simon and his wife decided that they would begin a new chapter in their lives by moving to Johannesburg.
After nearly four years in São Paulo importing wine, Simon is now back in his hometown and has joined the Great Domaines team to work alongside Derek looking after the private clients.
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Born in Yorkshire and having spent some time travelling around the world, Harry returned to the UK having decided that the wine industry was just about the best thing around. He spent five years working in London, the third largest ‘wine city’ in the world, and was exposed to the best wines from all corners of the globe. During this time, he completed his WSET Diploma and also managed to squeeze in a few more little trips to wineries in Spain, Germany and Chile.
After meeting his future wife, he upped sticks and moved to South Africa and helped a non-profit organisation set up a ‘green business’ start-up incubator. This inspired him to set up his own company, creating educational urban farm spaces in townships.
Two years later, the call of fine wine simply proved to be too alluring and now he returns to his original passion by joining the team at Great Domaines. Favourite wines include Alsatian whites and Northern Italian reds, especially Amarone.
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Karin's wine curiosity was kept alive by regular visits to wine estates while she studied Human Movement Science at Stellenbosch University. She obtained a honours degree in Biokinetics from the University of Potchefstroom and thereafter worked as a cardiac technician at various London hospitals for 2 years.
On her return to Cape Town she ran her own Biokinetics practice for 7 years. It was during this time, whilst travelling abroad regularly that she discovered her true passion for wine. She took a 6 month break and visited some leading wine regions in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, California and Canada.
After obtaining the Diploma from the Cape Wine Academy she decided to bid her medical profession farewell and with a friend as partner opened a wine and tapas bar, 'French Toast', in Cape Town. Invaluable experience was gained and she enjoyed meeting many people in the industry. One of the first wine companies to pay French toast a visit was Great Domaines and a close business relationship developed.
French Toast was sold in 2013 and 2 years later she grabbed the opportunity to join the Great Domaines team. Karin has received her Diploma of Cape Wine Master recently.
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Christopher matriculated in 2012 from Jeppe Boys High School with 3 distinctions and a great curiosity in food. After matric he took a gap year, where he spent three months at a summer camp in the USA, and a further three months touring California.
After this break he returned to South Africa to begin his studies at Hotel School. Working at a resort in White River, he quickly rose from chef trainee to pastry chef. As part of his training, he attended a wine and spirits course, and the infamous wine bug bit..
Taking up a position as pastry chef in a top Sandton hotel 2014, he soon resigned to pursue his newfound love for fine wine.
Christopher is has recently passed his Level Two Diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust with merit, whilst broadening his knowledge practically. Christopher has a certificate in Graphic Design, and is the Graphic Designer and Website Manager at Great Domaines. He is currently studying toward his BA through UNISA.
Contact Christopher: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle comes from a strong bookkeeping background, and is Great Domaines' newest addition as the company bookkeeper. Michelle has fulfilled this role with various companies in the past and is excited to do what she loves, while learning more about what she loves drinking.
After working at a well known chicken portioning and distribution plant, Michelle decided that it was time for her to begin a new chapter and challenge herself, while at the same time working with a passionate team, and expanding her knowledge of fine wines from around the world.
In the short time that she has been with Great Domaines Michelle has learnt much, and looks forward to a long and successful relationship not only with her team, but with our customers and suppliers too.
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Raised in Paris and Burgundy, Christine established an early love of Pinot Noir and inevitably found herself in the business of marketing French wine. Armed with an honours degree in Communication, she started her career in advertising on the Champs Elyses in Paris. In order to improve her English, she moved to London in 1997 to work for the luxury retailer Hermes, where she met her South African husband. They moved to the Cape at the end of 1999 and Christine went back to advertising and soon found an opportunity to become the market manager for a publishing company. This was followed by a new challenge in launching a new children’s brand with a partner - first manufacturing and then licensing a whole range of exclusive products. With the economic crisis of 2008, the business was no longer viable which brought with it a host of new challenges.
In 2009, a winemaker friend convinced Christine to use her marketing skills and apply her passion for wine to the industry. From a wine marketing consultant, she became a passionate wine writer contributing to a number of leading wine and lifestyle publications. Life then brought her to Johannesburg where the opportunity arose to focus again on wine marketing. Having been brought up on the fine wines of Burgundy, it only made natural sense for Christine to join a company like Great Domaines.
Christine has completed her Cape Wine Academy Level 2 Diploma.
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Born in Zimbabwe, Kay first started out working at a local bank. Once she turned eighteen, she decided to answer the patriotic call and enlisted in the BSAP (police force). After a number of years of service, Kay decided to move her family to South Africa and established a career first in the private sector and then within the Department of Education and Department of Justice.
All of this experience then lead Kay to the Department of Home Affairs where she worked for twenty-four years until the time came that a new challenge was in order. She has since joined the Great Domaines team in the role of Office Manager and Head of Logistics. Her aim is to expand her knowledge of wine and of the exciting market as a whole.
Outside of the office, Kay enjoys painting, beadwork, reading and needlepoint.
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Clotilda completed her matric at McAuley’s house in November 2016 and immediately started her wine immersion with Great Domaines after completing her exams.
She started working at Great Domaines as an Intern while studying part time at Boston City college towards a Bcom degree in Marketing Management. Clotilda is currently the Marketing Assistant for Great Domaines.
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Great Domaines' Logistics Team
An indispensable member of the Great Domaines team, Watson started out delivering papers for over 10 years - getting up at 02h00 every day. Today he works as Great Domaines' driver in the daylight hours, in charge of local deliveries in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The youngest member of the Great Domaines team, Emmanuel completed school at the top of his computer science class which earned him a very memorable trip overseas to Boston, Massachusetts. This memorable trip also involved his participation in a televised segment of the students’ computer class at the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network. Emmanuel joined Great Domaines at the end of 2014 as a cellar assistant and a welcome addition to the driving team.
During his time working at Pick ‘n Pay, Ishmael attended a course in customer service through the company at the professional development branch of The Walt Disney Company, the Disney Institute. He progressed through the ranks during his 23 years of employment at the supermarket giant, and went from a position as a cashier to storeroom assistant. He joined Great Domaines at the start of 2015 as a full-time driver and now manages the Great Domaines cellars.