As one of the three largest wine consuming countries in the world, the US presents ample opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to introduce Americans to high-quality wines from around the world. When David Hewan saw the opportunity to import quality South African wines and distribute them to restaurants, country clubs, wine bars and retail outlets throughout Florida, he took it.
Bringing Quality South African Wines to the US
As owner of Cellar2sellers in Pembroke Park, Fla., Hewan was born and bred in Johannesburg, SA and is very familiar with the country and the savory wines produced there. Wanting to pair those wines with American palates, he recently imported his first shipment of more than 6,300 bottles of wine from South Africa to Miami with DB Schenker’s help.
“I really want to create an awareness of the higher-quality wines that are being produced in South Africa now,” says Hewan, who is focusing on smaller producers who may have been dropped by larger distributors during the global pandemic (namely due to escalating shipping costs).
The wines he’s importing all have a 90+ rating, as aligns with US based rating systems. “I’ve been able to build relationships with some of the smaller, fantastic farms in South Africa,” Hewan adds.
Tackling the Logistics Challenges
Hewan has experience shipping wine cross-country from Florida to California, but this would be his first international shipment. Along with the usual temperature fluctuation, damage, loss and potential spoilage associated with such shipments, Hewan now also had to factor in international regulations, shipping costs and supply chain considerations.
One thing Hewan didn’t want was for his precious cargo to be loaded into a 20-foot container and put on a ship. And while this would allow him to send more bottles than he’d otherwise be able to, using this approach could have compromised the integrity of the packaging and exposed the product to unfavorable temperatures.
“Some of these wines have taken five or six years to produce and mature. I didn’t want to run the risk of the ship stopping at Freeport for 10 extra days and the product spoiling,” Hewan explains. To avoid these challenges, he worked with DB Schenker to secure a refrigerated container or “reefer” to ship the wines to Miami.
Hewan says he selected the global logistics provider based on a recommendation from a friend who procures wines from Cape Town and delivers them to Durban (both in South Africa). “He uses DB Schenker for that route,” Hewan says. “When we started discussing the option of a container shipment to the US, obviously the most logical choice was to approach DB Schenker, so that’s where we went.”
More Growth Ahead
Cellar2seller’s first container left South Africa in December and arrived in Miami in February, with DB Schenker handling both the export and import logistics for the shipment. “I shipped 6,366 bottles of wine and 6,366 bottles of wine arrived, so I’m always happy with that,” says Hewan.
The reefer container arrived slightly ahead of schedule (49 days versus a quoted 60 days), and Hewan was pleased with the time savings in light of the current supply chain constraints. Previously, DB Schenker’s Miami team also helped Cellar2sellers import two other shipments of wine via air freight.
“I’m very happy with the service that I’ve received from DB Schenker,” says Hewan, who is already planning his next imported shipment of wines from South Africa and also looking to expand his product line and reach within the US. He’s focused on bringing in new Chardonnay and Pinotage (a highly desirable South African varietal) wines in the most economical and feasible manner possible.
DB Schenker will be there to help this entrepreneur achieve his goals of building his company and introducing more people around the world to quality South African wines. “The shipping was great and the wine all arrived in perfect order,” he adds. “I sampled a couple of bottles from random cases in the shipment and they all made it here in great shape.”