South African-born entrepreneur Walter Bader’s passion for winemaking extends back to his dad, Walter Bader Sr, who was the former winemaker at Riebeek Valley Wine Co. Today, building on his father’s legacy, Bader & Walters Family Wines (or B&W) has made a name for itself by producing high-quality products at affordable prices.
The Bader family shares a passion for handcrafted ultra-premium wines and supplying their clients with the best quality products. After working in the industry for 20 years and fostering relationships with producers from various farms, Walter realised many consumers are unable to visit all South Africa’s wine farms and most don’t know where to find the best premium cultivars. That’s when he decided to bring these wines to consumers.
B&W prioritises the quality of the cultivar because consumers should have the best wines, Walter says. He realised not many suppliers in South Africa have made this their business principle and decided to exploit the gap in the market. “We identify wine cellars and visit them yearly to select the best wines to bottle for our clients under our brand,” he says. B&W is a wine brand that adds value to the industry by sourcing the best quality wines from wine cellars, making it easy for the customer to identify the best wines in each variety.
B&W still follows a vigorous process of sourcing the highest quality wine. “We’ve created great relationships with various winemakers who send us samples for tasting.” Walter then invites a panel of experienced winemakers to taste various wines to help them choose the best ones, which are then bottled under the B&W brand. Last year alone, the panel tasted about 9 000 wines. It’s a gruelling process because only a handful of wines make it to the bottling process.
While B&W’s focus is the bottled industry, Walter’s dream is to eventually open a boutique wine cellar.
B&W attracts wine drinkers who enjoy a distinct but softer style of wine, which is mostly women aged 21 to 55. B&W bottles wines that sell for under R100 a bottle, and the quality is still outstanding, which seems uncommon in 2021.
Walter’s success can be owed to his lifetime experience in the wine industry: knowing what works and what doesn’t, and finding the gaps. This business model paid off last year when B&W received an award for the best value Pinotage 2016 for under R100 at Winemag’s Best Value Pinotage Tasting. Most recently, while the alcohol industry was shut down in 2020 and early 2021, and the world started battling a global pandemic, B&W swept up the Gold Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Award for its new Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, which it recently launched on its website.
“B&W’s wine range is driven by quality and best value for money. We hunt for the hidden gems in the South African wine industry.” The B&W white wine range consists of Chardonnay, Blanc Fumé (an uncommon French variety of Sauvignon Blanc) and Sauvignon Blanc; while the reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz.
“Our bestsellers are the Sauvignon Blanc 2019 and Merlot 2018,” Walter says. Each one of the wines boasts at least one award, showcased with gold and silver stickers adorning the bottles.
The wines are available on www.bwines.co.za, or on takealot.com.
RISING OUT OF THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
The company exports to Spain, China, Denmark and Germany. Like other wine businesses, B&W was forced to adapt during the lockdown and managed to do this by utilising Instagram and Facebook. “Despite being small, our brand fared surprisingly well,” Walter says. “We attribute our success to our award-winning wine and price points. We also had an online presence before lockdown, so when sales reopened, consumers didn’t hesitate to buy our wines.” Despite this, business was tough because everyone was under immense pressure, he adds.
B&W’s strategy for the next six months is to advertise more because survival is the bottom line. Small labels in South Africa’s wine industry are struggling, but B&W won’t give up when its back is against the wall.
Walter’s dream is for B&W to realise its full potential, which is more than just wine. While wine is Walter Bader’s passion and biggest love, B&W has so much more to contribute. It’s backed by the talent and unwavering quality to make a difference in the industry.
Sign up to B&W’s Free Wine Club on www.bwines.co.za to receive monthly offers on the highest quality wines that South Africa has to offer, and to ensure this important industry rebuilds.