Bertus Fourie, the company’s winemaker and a resident of Wellington, South Africa, where the winery is located, was in Atlanta for the launch.
“The South African [exports to the U.S.] have grown about 12 percent in the past 12 months,” Fourie said. “[Owner] Craig Entwistle lived in South Africa. He’s running the production side of things. He has lived for 33 years in the United States. I’m supporting a wine that’s starting to bloom.”
Fourie was named 2010 Southern Hemisphere Winemaker of the Year by Woolworth Stores in South Africa. He said this trip to Atlanta was his fourth.
“Atlanta is a gorgeous city. It’s one of my top four favorite cities in the world,” Fourie said.
Entwistle, of St. Simons Island, is co-founder and marketing chief of Girlfriends Wines, based in St. Simons. He was born and raised in South Africa but has lived in America since college. Entwistle’s brother Stuart runs operations for Val du Charron Wine and Olive Estate, a 314-year-old, 120-acre farm in Wellington, where Girlfriends Wines and other wine products are made under the Val du Charron label.
Entwistle also is vice president of sales for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products and former owner of one of its companies, St. Simons-based SeaPak Shrimp and Seafood Co. But Thursday he was promoting his wines.
“Kroger Atlanta has been totally supportive. This great wine is in all [metro] Atlanta [Kroger] stores,” Entwistle said, adding he and Fourie were in town this week for the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, which started Thursday and ends Sunday.
Of the winery, Entwistle said, “We’re the sixth owner. It had been abandoned and we refurbished it. Val du Charron launched 30 days ago and will be coming to Kroger stores soon.”
Fourie added, “It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with this American company. We want to produce wines that are easy to drink at 7 o’clock in the morning and also in the evening.”
Entwistle said the wines are also available through National Distributing Co.