Our History

Our winemaking adventures really began in 2005 with an eleventh hour phone call from a friend saying she knew of someone with some grapes in excess of their requirements, would we like them? We just couldn’t say no! A quick rally round with friends found us space in the small cellar at Black Pearl wines, a few open fermenting bins, a couple of barrels and off we went with our small basket press and lots of enthusiasm. We hand bottled and corked our first thousand bottles of Borg Family Shiraz in the cellar… by hand!

Jeremy had left Fariview after 7 years and had a wine consulting business with a number of well-known wine companies as clients at this time. He was asked by one of his clients, The Company of Wine People, to relocate to the UK to assist with their business in that market, so off we went. I took myself back to college and studied fine art with photography.

During this time I designed our first label using one of my photographs of the patterns created by the lines in a vineyard – with matt black paper, embossing the lines of the vines and a foil changing the appearance with different lighting, it was an unusual label.

In 2006 we nipped over to South Africa to produce the second vintage, only to find ourselves having to find a new cellar a couple of days before we were due to harvest the grapes.

It was the year of the massive power shortages in South Africa, and our tiny quantity of grapes was fermented in a massive tank in a large cellar. A rather chaotic and less personal way then we had hoped for. We returned to the UK determined to turn this into our livelihood, but in need of the appropriate inspiration for a suitable project. We had already decided to create an organisation which would allow us to focus all of our passions for wine, conservation and art and utilise our skills. Finding a name and a suitable project took a lot of thought and gave Jeremy many sleepless nights…

Jeremy was leafing through a copy of the excellent Africa Geographic Magazine and came across an article about the reintroduction of Painted Wolves in Natal – and that was the spark which quickly led to a trademark search and hasty registration – we were ready to scale up! A number of UK friends were very excited to be part of this new venture and loaned us the initial seed capital we required – the nucleus of which became Our Pack.

Jeremy and I returned to live in South Africa just before the 2007 harvest – we found a great little space on a friend’s farm at Donkerhoek near Paarl and moved our newly purchased micro wine making equipment into our rustic little cellar. We bought a small amount of grapes from a number of growers. It came to Jeremy’s attention that one of our growers had been let down by a customer who cancelled their order for grapes at the last minute. These were good grapes – the sort that help make tremendous wine. Kasteelsig is one of the most highly regarded vineyards in South Africa, owned by Billy and Penny Hughes. Confident that Painted Wolf would become a successful wine company, he approached them with a mutually beneficial proposal. Jeremy and I had met Billy Hughes in 1997 shortly after returning home to South Africa, and had kept in touch occasionally over the years. We knew that they are passionate growers, and were just the sort of people we sought for Our Pack. We needed great grapes and funds, and they needed security, so a deal was struck and they became our first South African shareholders and pack members. So the trading began… Jeremy and I hitched up trailers to our trusty old safari Landrover ‘Jemma’ and our other vehicle and headed for Malmesbury. This harvest Jeremy and I made the wine together with our local helper Maria and a bit of local muscle from time to time when needed.

During this time we got to know Paul Kempton-Jones, a Donkerhoek friend and highly regarded agricultural entrepreneur, who was very intrigued by our project and agreed to invest in our new wine venture.

As we began to bring in some cash things started to gain momentum. What really galvanised our project and brought real focus was a touch of fate (or good karma). Jeremy inadvertently called the ‘wrong’ Mark on his mobile phone and got back in touch with an old colleague, Mark Gray, an IT entrepreneur and web expert. Between them they hatched a plan for the Painted Wolf Wine Company.

It was time for the serious business of budgets and forecasts, and the search for a considerable amount of investment.

Jeremy approached old business friends Quinta do Portal, a top winery in the Douro, Portugal who joined our pack, along with a number of other investors.

We then set out to include a conservation program within our business and were fortunate to be introduced to Dr Tico McNutt of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. Whilst working in Botswana in the 90’s we had known of his work and were delighted to be associated with their organisation. The BPCT in turn introduced us to TUSK.

The Painted Wolf pack was on the move!