Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Simonsig - Bubbles that Bring Me Down

Until recently, I have been a loyal Simonsig fan – the Kaapese Vonkel is a beautiful bubbly, it’s history in South African winemaking makes it unique, and the lovely champagne stoppers sold at the wine farm seem difficult to procure anywhere else so I decided long ago that I would make a plan to visit the estate.

My opportunity finally presented itself this past weekend while I was in Stellenbosch for a girls’ getaway. I told my friend with much excitement what a treat we were in for – the perfect ending to our afternoon, keepsake glasses we could remember the experience by, a few bottles to take home for another time, and finally, the much-sought-after champagne stopper.

Unfortunately for us, this was not to be. We were under the impression that closing time was at 16:30, and as we arrived at 16:15, we were relieved to find that there were still plenty of patrons and staff on site and were thrilled to have arrived “just in time”. We were wrong, of course – closing time was actually at 16:00. The smiles on our expectant faces wilted away when we were informed by the “Host” that we would not be served a tasting – we were too late, Simonsig was now closed. He told us this from the counter where he was sitting – the same one we had hoped to be served at – and after barely replacing his very own glass of crispy cold sparkling wine.

We told him how disappointed we were – that we had planned our visit for a very long time and would not be able to come back any time soon. We asked if he would reconsider, especially since there were still so many other patrons at the Estate, that closing time had just only passed, and that we had intended to purchase as well. He looked over at us, still seated in front of his bubbly, and replied with a monotonous tone that we should rather plan to come back on the following day. I barely convinced him to allow me to purchase the champagne stopper before we had to turn and leave otherwise empty handed, disappointed, and dejected.

My friend and I were let down by an un-empathetic employee who was probably only thinking about his plans for the evening, and not about the potential damage his handling of the situation could have for the brand. Worse, it seems this is not a once-off encounter but rather a general impression of Simonsig among the wine community – as we went on to visit other farms during our stay, my friend and I couldn’t help but recount our experience to other patrons and hosts, and each time we were met with looks of understanding, nodding, and murmurs that it wasn’t the first time they’d heard something negative about Simonsig. The experience was really very unfortunate and I had the sorry realization that none of a wine estate’s magic – not is history, its stunning setting, nor its winemaking excellence – can compete with the visitor’s experience.


  1. : ( I'm sorry you were turned away.

  2. Dear Theresa

    Your annoyance and disappointment at not being accommodated by our tasting staff over the weekend is understandable. Please accept my apologies for this unfortunate incident. We furthermore appreciate your informing us on the problem and giving us the opportunity to correct it.

    Although tasting hours at Simonsig over the weekend are from 9.30 am – 16h00 you should have been afforded the time and opportunity to taste and enjoy our excellent wines. I have only started as Marketing and Sales Manager at Simonsig 4 weeks ago and one of my top priorities will be to make our Estate and especially the tasting room more accessessable and receptive to our visitors. I can assure you that I will immediately address this incident and ensure that we become more consumer friendly.

    I realize this is a ‘little belated’, but please visit us again before deciding to quit us completely. I would also appreciate it if you could contact me directly viz a viz a future visit to our Estate.

    Again, I am sorry to hear about your bad experience over the weekend. We at Simonsig do value your business and loyalty.

    Kind Regards
    Jacques P Jordaan
    Manager: Marketing and Sales