South & Sons is the kind of business that conjures up images of newsboy caps and long meetings over coffee while mulling over silver MacBooks and iPhones. There’s an air of Old World mixed with fast-paced digital New World about the whole operation when we meet at convenience store and bar Depanneur to chat about their business: wine & beer importing venture focused both on the quality of the products as well as the sharing of stories.
And man, can they tell a story. What begins as a fairly formal interview quickly takes a left turn into an effusive recounting of their love of South African wines and their long-term plans to articulate that to the Danish market.
Formed in 2015, the four “sons” are all creatives with a shared love of wine. Francois Botha, a South African living in Copenhagen, grew up around wine and knew how to navigate not only the taste but also the business side of South African wineries. Kristian Holm, a photographer, began visiting Stellenbosch (the South African winelands just outside of Cape Town) in 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. “I was going to wine farms privately,” he explains “And I knew this was the wine I wanted to bring back to Denmark. I wanted to have the option there too.”
With French family, founding member Adam Høyer’s wine knowledge lay in that region, but he quickly realised how good South African wines can be, noting “Before visiting, I thought South African wines were focused on really heavy, full-bodied, tanny-y wines because that’s what was on the market here in Denmark. Now I want to focus on brining in the best, and a range of tastes.”
The final member of the team, Kristian Sørensen, is a sommelier and has worked in both Copenhagen and Cape Town in several Michelin restaurants and wine importers; the perfect link for South & Sons. He is, in fact, in Cape Town at the time of the interview. Lucky duck. The South & Sons official launch begins when he arrives back in Copenhagen in early December of 2015.
During the course of our chat, I learn that Denmark has the most registered wine importers of any country in the world. The Actual World, you guys! That is crazy-sounding, although upon closer inspection, many of these registered “importers” are actually just bringing in wine privately for themselves. Still, that indicates two things: South & Sons has to differentiate itself on the market to succeed and people really like wine in Denmark.
The latter of those two points means that South & Sons is in the right business. At the moment, there are few South African wines widely available in Denmark and they tend to be from larger wineries. “We need to provide wines that fit the Danish palate,” Adam conceeds, “meaning rounded and balanced whites as well as lighter reds. But we also want to introduce new tastes and small wine farms; it’s a balance.”
What makes South & Sons special is their dual focus on the wine as well as the communication of the history and visuals behind each winery. They recognise the high-quality of the product as well as the vibrant stories that come with each one. Adam says. “There was a visual dimension missing from the way South African wine was sold, which is such a shame because the landscape is beautiful. So we’re adding that in.”
Francois continues, “We’re also keen to ‘democratize’ wine, in a way. Drinking wine can be an elitist activity, but in Denmark since you can drink outside, there’s a greater opportunity to bring down those barriers. Wine can be a social, fun activity and not quite so serious.”
How does one “democratize” wine, I ask? Through public events like tastings, relatable branding and the personal stories of the wine makers. “The stories are the key,” Adam tells me, “Since we all have backgrounds in the creative industries, sharing those stories is second-nature to us. It’s what attracted us to the farms in the first place.” That means a lot of travel to meet the wine makers and taste the wines. Tough life.
Must-try wines of South & Sons
Kogelbos Mount Abora Chenin Blanc
J. H. Meyer Pinot Noir
In addition to wine, South & Sons is importing a few well-curated beers, including the fantastic (and beautifully branded) And Union, a brewery that’s done so well in South Africa that most people think it’s a local beer – it’s actually made in Germany.
Our discussion continues and the morning stretches on. Beloved wines, remembering a first taste, the anticipation of what’s to come. Francois says, “There are a lot of directions we’d like to move in. We plan to eventually produce our own wine, maybe organise customised tours and open a wine bar in Copenhagen. But it all starts with getting people interested in these wines.”
Well, there’s nothing more interesting than passion and these boys have it in droves. They all have endlessly good things to say about the brands they work with, as well as each other. “It’s really just a good fit; with each other and with the market in Denmark.” Kristian notes.
Francois nods and concludes, “We act as custodians for the wines which we take in. It’s our responsibility to make sure their stories reach the customers who eventually drink the wine. Each wine farm is it’s own family, and we plan to be an extension of that family.”
See more on South & Sons and browse their products.
Enjoy 20% off all South & Sons wines for the month of December using the code SCANDI20.
A great holiday gift for the wine or beer-lover in your life (or just for yourself). Buy a bottle or a box; either way: cheers! We recommend the Kogelbos Mount Abora Chenin Blanc; it is seriously excellent, at a great price and it sells out fast – hop to it!