The History of Botha Wine Cellar

8 February 1949, a day that would change the course of history for many people. This is the day Botha Cellar was registered as a co-operation. With only 14 members, the cellar leaped into a future with great expectations. Only one year later, they had their very first harvest, even though the building of the cellar was not yet completed. This in itself made it a very difficult harvest, but they were successful and produced a harvest of 3,386 tons. An official opening celebration took place in 1952, after three years of successful and intense harvesting. Botha Cellar and its personnel have never stagnated over the past 50 years. Faithfully biding by their own ambition, a will to lead in a great industry and their love of wine. Therefore, until this day, Botha Cellar continues their journey with growth and success…

1952 A committee was selected for a new cooling room of 4,000 hectoliter. Mr TC Botha of Worcester did the plan and the quote was accepted. A loan was proposed to the bank for £5 000 but due to an appointment of Mr. GJ Conradie (a man with a family) the loan had to be changed to £12 000. The loan was unfortunately not approved and a new quote was accepted from another builder, Mr. JH de Koker and each shareholder had to forward one shilling each.

1954 An extremely good harvest changed the cellar’s financial situation and two more exceptions for press managers and the building of four cement tanks, that holds 800 hectoliter.

1956 A long awaited dream came true when Eskom’s power network reached Botha Cellar.

1960 Extra steel tanks, 3 500 hectoliter, from Consani and a Venturi Cooling Tower with a fan was bought in this time.

1961 Not only was this a good year financially for Botha Cellar, but in other departments as well. All cellar debts were paid in full and extra cash was available for corrections to the cellar. In 1959, Willi Hacker was appointed as Cellar master in Germany and in 1961 the first white wine was released at Botha Cellar. This became a necessity in the cellar and wine industry and are proceeded till today. Preparations for the largest expansions (R70 000) of this cellar’s history was being made and their loan at Land Bank was approved.

1964 An office was completed by building contractor JC Abdol for R1 610, material included. 1965 An abnormal large harvest leads to new discussions into building more storage containers. Building of a press chamber with a wine tank in the floor and changes was done to the grape unload bowls by builder PP de Kock for R2 695. They started drilling for water on the premises and installed hydraulic equipment for R4 452. Bought four extra Cloete Drainers (R4 720) and a new Coq-press for R12 968.

1968 Big expansion to be planned so a permanent loan of R140 000 had to be made and approved. The following reparations was made to the cellar … 10 Stainless Steel Tanks of 600 hectoliter each, 14 Stainless tanks of 430 hectoliter each, shell cellar and cooling store by Mr. PP de Kock for R46 437, a Molenaars Divider and shell pump, a Cooling Unit, a Cooling Tower and Machine Room and the moving of four big steel tanks from the eastside of the building to the westside by Mr. PP de Kock.

1971 The cellar celebrated its 21st Birthday in the Eike Hall in Rawsonville with a formal event on 7 May 1971.

1973 This is the year of the biggest and most expensive expansions in the history of Botha Cellar. The amount totaled to R256 507 for which a loan was needed. The process at their original bank was going to take too long so they were forced to move to another trading bank, Volkskas. This included, building work, a centrifuge, four unload systems, four stainless steel deposit bowls, a Coq-grape mill, two Coq-two Coq-shell pumps, a fermentation tank, a Juice Filter, 15 stainless steel tanks of 12 000 hectoliter each, a wine lees tank of steel (1700 hectoliter), an automatic refract meter with a monster measure and also a wide variety of smaller work. In the years to follow, only small changes and reparation were made to the cellar.

1974 A new centrifuge … R69 816

1975 Reparation of R58 637 for a rapid-fermentation tank, wine pump, front press and re-plaster of the cement tanks.

1976 Reparation and small improvements shell pump, platform scale, sample taker, worms and four sand filters … R18 2224.

1977 A truck, high-pressure pump, shell pump and sand filters … R20 234

1978 Buying of eight Bucher Drainers and a grape mill

1980 Three houses situated next to the cellar was bought from the SAS and thus the housing problem was resolved.

1981 On the 11 February 1981 a main-switchboard fire began, but fortunately the fire was stopped by the fast action of Nel Bester.

1983 A record harvest year for South Africa.

1984 One filter machine … R30 000.

1985 A Garolla filter and two Impala Grape Mill were bought for the total cost of R60 000.

1986 Bought a computerized harvest program with equipment and a Massmatic electronic scale that can be directly linked to the computer. A refractometer was also bought.

1987 A patch in front of the office and sales office was tarred.

1988 A record harvest once again.

1990 A problem with the running water caused problems with the neighboring farm of Mr. LG and AS Botha because the impurities in the water blocked their irrigation systems. A piece of ground was then bought from Mr. H Viljoen on the other side of the railway tracks and exchanged for that piece of ground of Mr. Botha Since then there were no more problems with free running water.

1991 Upgrading of cooling system … R40 000

1992 Changes include cooling, re-coating of two steel tanks, ventilation openings with a fan for the wine house and a few other minor changes … R100 000

1993 A Computer Network System was installed to which the sugar measure, scale and mettler was connected.

1994 No attention was given towards expansion to the cellar’s capacity for a long time, causing a problem as Botha Cellar had a record harvest of 20,000 ton once again. There were still 700 hectoliters of the 1993 wine left and this had to be stored at Waboomsrivier Cellar.

1995 A survey by KWV proved that the cellar will need an additional 41 000 hectoliter for storage, as there was only enough storage for 25,000 hectoliter.

1996 Four new membrane presses of 25 ton each (completely computerized) were installed by Columbit for R2.8 million

1997 Two Elite-drainers, electrical pump, Vacuumfilter, mass coolers, two wine pumps, covering of cement tanks reparation, equipment, and buildings included.

1998 Rapid-fermentation tanks were removed and exchanged for a Grotto-Defranceschi- and Consanti Tanks, Oakwood crates. The main switchboard needed to be upgraded.

1999 Record breaking harvest of 22,139 ton grapes

2000 Record breaking harvest of 23,261 ton grapes Expansion of the cellar’s capacity with 3,480,000liter with the building of a new storage area nr.4 Redwine yeast capacity expansion with 4 x 45ton rotor tanks

2002 A record breaking harvest of 25,398 ton grapes Seasonal workers get a brand new sleeping hall Installation of 2 x 80ton redwine tanks

2003 Record breaking harvest of 26,153 ton grapes Building of social area Building of new white wine production area Installation of 10 x 30ton Static drainers plus 3 x Elite Static drainers Installation 4 x 80ton redwine fermenters

2004 Record breaking harvest of 31,226 ton grapes Installation of 10 x 350,000 liter storage tanks

2005 Powdery mildew reduce the yield with 23%. in 2005, which led to a 24,055 ton harvest. Installation 10 x 350,000 liter storage tanks

2006 Mr. JC (Dassie) Smith retired as general manager on the 31st of October. Mr.Gerrit van Zyl is appointed as the new general manager from 1st November. Completion of the waste water treatment plant.

2007 Building of another storage area, expanding the cellar’s capacity with 4,500,000liter. Construction of a new cooling plant area and upgrading the cooling capacity.

2008 Record breaking harvest of 33773 ton grapes Installation of 4 new crusher and destemmers Annamarie Gagiano, Botha’s first female assistant-winemaker started on the 1 December

2009 The big 60 celebration year of Botha cellar. Installation of a new Westfalia centrifuge.