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Changing Destiny | Vivian Kleynhans

The Story of a Giant – Vivian Kleynhans

Vivian Kleynhans CEO of the Seven Sisters with Leading Luxury Magazine

Born in one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast, Paternoster was more than just home to the Brutus family. After 20 years of service, John Brutus, father to seven daughters and a son, lost his employment and consequently saw the entire family evicted from a place they once called home. This split resulted in the family taking up accommodation at various family homes. A story of perseverance and steadfastness is what we read today, which really started when the middle daughter, Vivian Kleynhans CEO of the Seven Sisters brand, took up the daunting task of exploring the wine industry; a whitedominated industry, established more than 350 years ago. Under the apartheid laws, black people were not allowed to own land, have wineries or farms; this meant that Vivian had to buy wines from other wineries until 2011 when all of this changed. The sisters acquired barren land which they developed into the farm we see today, “My dream over the years was to build a business to unite the family and become financially independent” The courageous words of Vivian Kleynhans. With extreme difficulty breaking into the South African wine market, Vivian proceeded to look elsewhere. Platforms such as the the Soweto Wine Festival were paramount to this aspiring brand. Meeting Selena Cuffe, President and CEO of Heritage Link Brands, later proved life changing to the former resident of Paternoster; as Selena Cuffe puts it “A Light bulb went off” after experiencing the Seven Sisters Rosé together with the rich history behind the brand. Selena felt that every American had to hear the story of women overcoming obstacles regardless of the circumstances. In the process of Vivian Kleynhans vigorously navigating and trying to find a fitting market for the Seven Sisters brand, it all seemed like time had run out and the brand had reached the end of its road. Then the call came, excited Selena on the one side and overwhelmed Vivian on the other, with the breaking news that mass giant Wal-Mart had approved the stocking of Seven Sisters. The first consignment was shipped in April 2007. Since then Seven Sisters Wines have been listed in 42 American states. In 2009 The Sauvignon Blanc, named after Vivian was selected by American Airlines to be served in First and Business Class; the very first wine ever in the 365 years of South African history. With each wine having been dedicated to a sister, the Seven Sisters wine selection, (from youngest (sibling) to oldest), consisted of a Bukettraube – “Odelia”, PinotageRose – “Twena” , Chenin Blanc – “Yolanda”, Sauvignon Blanc – “Vivian”, Pinotage/Shiraz – “Dawn” , Merlot – “June”, and Cabernet Sauvignon –” Carol” . While Vivian is proud of the many industry accolades the brand has received, she is equally proud of the fact that, through the company’s success, the community around them has largely benefitted, thus seeing the company providing employment to a further 17 full-time and 60 seasonal workers. With assistance and insight, the Brutus family has successfully planted and harvested their very first Chardonnay and Shiraz grapes from the vineyards. With various expansions in place, Vivian is proud to introduce The Barn; a perfect wedding venue on the premises. With the alluring vineyards as a backdrop, the space makes for memorable moments to the finest of couples. The farm also boasts a recently built restaurant; “we call it our ‘Mother’s Dining Room’. Here we reflect on the history of our hometown with white washed walls and blue inserts, taking you back to Paternoster, along with a stretched out white sandy volley ball court – as if you were on the beach”. A space privately booked by groups to experience peace and tranquillity, home away from home, but also a contemporary space ideal for events, tours, conferences and private launches. The menus are inspired by recipes passed down the family tree – so when present at Seven Sisters Vineyards, one is transported back into the history, echos the quote on the Seven Sisters website “Everything begins with a story, start yours with us.” Seven Sisters Email: vivian@africanrootswines.com Website: www.sevensisters.co.za

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