Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products are manufactured on a farm in Joostenberg Vlakte where handcrafted wooden products are produced from reclaimed oak wine barrels discarded by the Western Cape wine industry. These materials include wine barrel, and staves which are oak planks hung inside stainless steel wine tanks.
The manufacturing of reclaimed oak products take place in dilapidated buildings, which were restored – creating a multifaceted and spacious workshop. The Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products team are made up of 6 previously unemployed young staff members and the founder of the initiative, known as Kiewiet.
As a varsity student, Anthony Laubscher – or Kiewiet amongst friends and family – resided on the farm where he co-existed with the farm workers and their children, and through mutual living had the chance to build good relationships with them, which later became the strong foundation on which they together would build their success story. After finishing varsity and not being able to find work in the 2008 recession year, the team slowly came together. Woodworking was a skill taught by his father, a carpenter by trade, which in turn Kiewiet taught the youngsters.
The start-up of the business was a slow and difficult process as they could not afford decent machines or even wine barrels. In the beginning Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products focused on working with wine-stained oak planks they picked up for free from selected wineries. For almost 2 years they manufactured a unique range consisting of mostly crates and wine-stained oak tables.
In 2009 Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products was selected to take part in Kamersvol Geskenke, the innovators of large-scale pop-up creative trading spaces in South Africa, offering them an excellent opportunity to showcase their handcrafted products. The wine-stained crates proved to be a winner, with a sell-out at all shows for the past 2 years. The cash injection and reliable platform allowed Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products to purchase more machinery, and streamline production to include a cutting board range which is also a winner. Other products include coffee tables, oak chairs, platters and many more.
The rapid growth in world wine production, and the slow growth of northern hemisphere oak trees, has seen the demand and price of wine barrels increase drastically over the last 2 years. This fact, accompanied by the weaker Rand, has put a tremendous strain on the budget of South African winemakers.
Fewer barrels are imported, and even discarded barrels are now purchased back by the northern hemisphere for further use in making fortified wines. This all lead to a dramatic drop in availability of barrels for use by local artisans, and Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products presently experiences a decline in production volumes.
Continued support for the purchase of wine barrels at affordable prices by top wineries such as Kanonkop, Fairview and Lourensford, who recognises the importance of local job security, has kept Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products in business. However, the future of Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products is now completely in the hands of local winemakers and farm owners, he says.
Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products are available at acclaimed wineries, craftmarkets, farmstalls and the brand is popular in various coffee shops and restaurants within the Western Cape.
Kiewiet Reclaimed Oak Products also offer opportunities for companies to brand their own products.
For more information contact 079 972 7542 or visit www.kiewiet.co