A strategic partnership between two established family-owned businesses, Loxtonia Cider and Van Loveren Family Vineyards, bodes well for significant growth in the South African premium cider market and paves the way for global expansion.
This new partnership sees the collaboration of two like-minded businesses with strong family oriented values and deep ties to farming communities in the Western Cape.
Nurtured from ‘orchard to bottle’ by the Whitfield family on their apple farm in the Ceres Valley, Loxtonia Cider is a flag bearer for sustainability and has grown into a trusted premium cider brand in just over four years.
Sharing similar values, Van Loveren, Africa’s leading family-owned private wine business situated in the Robertson Valley, has been in the Retief family for over three generations.
“This strategic partnership opens up new opportunities in terms of distribution and accessibility that will take our premium ciders to the next level,” says Loxtonia founder and chief cider maker, Larry Whitfield.
“We believe that the Retiefs of Van Loveren are a natural fit for us as it allows us to remain true to our agricultural roots and ‘orchard to bottle’ premise, while letting us tap into their vast expertise in finding new routes to market on the local front as well as opening up export opportunities,” he adds.
Widely acclaimed for their quality and premium wine offering, Van Loveren export their products to more than 68 countries and are market leaders in many categories. The partnership with Loxtonia marks Van Loveren’s first foray into the cider market.
“Our partnership with Loxtonia supports Van Loveren’s growth strategy, specifically as far as growing our premium offering is concerned, and further expansion into the non-wine liquor category,” says Phillip Retief, Managing Director of Van Loveren Family Vineyards.
“The unique market position Loxtonia has, being made from 100% apples, completely natural with no preservatives etc., was particularly attractive to us. A further synergy was that Loxtonia is family-owned, and we very well understand the culture, dynamics and sentiments that drive such a business,” he concludes.
What started as a passion project for Larry with support on the marketing side from daughter Alexandra, has seen Loxtonia become South Africa’s top achieving premium cider. Accolades across their range of ciders from prestigious local and international competitions include ‘best cider in the world’ at London’s International Cider Challenge, and numerous medals at the World Cider Awards including Gold for best label design.
Loxtonia is made entirely from naturally fermented, freshly pressed apples grown on the family farm. Their philosophy of nurturing the complete cider making process from ‘orchard to bottle’ is the core of their business starting with the soil and sustainable farming practices and ending with the cider in the bottle. Recycling, composting and a substantial investment into solar power attest to the Whitfield’s overarching commitment to sustainability.
Loxtonia has a wide range of premium ciders to suit every palate that can be tasted at the cidery in Ceres. For more information, visit https://loxtonia.co.za/
Launched from humble beginnings by the Whitfield family on their apple farm in the beautiful Ceres Valley in October 2018, Loxtonia Cider has grown into an established South African brand with a loyal following of people looking for a freshly pressed and naturally fermented alternative to more commercial ciders.
For the Whitfield family, the concept of ‘orchard to bottle’ is paramount in capturing the quality and integrity of the apple throughout the cider making process. It is a journey that begins in the soil and ends with the cider. From cherishing every apple variety handpicked in the orchards, to pressing the fresh apples, natural fermentation and gentle filtration, nothing is left to chance.
Sustainability is integral to Loxtonia’s ‘orchard to bottle’ philosophy. A substantial investment in solar power makes the cidery less reliant on the national grid, while the efficiency of the best Swiss-made pressing system keeps water usage to a minimum. Composting the remaining apple pomace back into the soil for the next harvest, and a dedicated recycling programme are ingrained in their daily operations.
In pursuit of his dream to establish a cidery on the family farm, Loxtonia founder and chief cider maker Larry Whitfield, started experimenting with apples from their own orchards in 2013. Five years later after intensive research in pursuit of the best natural processes and producing small batches for family and friends, Larry was finally satisfied that the cider was ready for release. With the help of his daughter, Alexandra, tasked with marketing the brand, Loxtonia Cider made its debut.
In a relatively short time, Loxtonia has made its mark as South Africa’s top achieving cider at prestigious local and international competitions. Accolades include numerous medals at the World Cider Awards in London for Loxtonia Crispy Apple, Sparkling Apple and African Sundowner, as well as Gold for best label design for Loxtonia Stone Fruit. The highest award received thus far was the Supreme Champion trophy as best cider in the world at the 2021 International Cider Challenge for their top tier Loxtonia Blush Méthode Traditionelle Cider.
In just over four years, the Loxtonia range has grown to 11 different premium apple ciders including two non-alcoholic options, two LITE versions and two bubbly-style Méthode Traditionelle Ciders – all delicious to the core with a taste for every palate. All Loxtonia ciders are gluten free, vegan friendly and free of preservatives and artificial additives.
Van Loveren is located 180 kilometers from Cape Town, in the Robertson Valley between Robertson and Bonnievale. Banks of scarlet cannas along the roadside distinctly mark their vineyards, which have been in the Retief family for over three generations.
The Retief family has been making wine since 1937. A significant milestone was reached in 1980 when brothers Nico and Wynand Retief launched the Van Loveren brand – the family name of an ancestor (Christiena van Loveren) who arrived in South Africa in 1699. Under this label, the first 500 cases of Premier Grand Cru were bottled, and since then, visitors have been welcomed to the farmstead and tasting rondavel.
The story of the third generation of the Retief winemakers began in the 1990s. After completing their studies, Wynand’s sons, Phillip and Neil, and Nico’s sons, Hennie and Bussell, joined the family business. Built on three generations of proudly South African entrepreneurial spirit and genuine hospitality, the Van Loveren portfolio includes many quality and premium wine offerings and is a world-class wine tourism destination.
Today Van Loveren is South Africa and Africa’s leading family-owned wine business, employing more than 600 employees, boasting three successful BEE empowerment initiatives, various joint ventures and plans for even further expansion. They epitomise the belief in South Africa’s future through meaningful partnerships and live to share their love of wine and their growth journey.
By partnering with Loxtonia Cider, the family is confident and focused on continuing on the journey of further enhancing the excellence of these premium offerings.