06 Feb 20 Years of Goats Do Roam!
2018 marks the 20th vintage of Goats Do Roam. Have you ever heard the tale of how the brand came to be?
The idea of Goats do Roam first came about in the late 1990′s during a casual conversation between Fairview owner Charles Back and his UK importer at the time. Charles was looking to launch a blended wine within the Fairview range comprising farm’s key varietal, Shiraz and others such as Grenache and Carignan. After regaling the tale of his son’s antics with the goats from the Fairview tower, and chatting about the herd that roams around the Fairview property (and a few glasses of wine no doubt) the name ‘Goats do Roam’ popped up and the rest is history.
When Charles Back and his team first decided to go ahead with the Goats do Roam wines he was adamant about one thing – he did not want to sell wine based purely on the name and the label. He wanted people to buy the Goats do Roam wines again after they tasted them for the first time and to do that he needed to make sure that what was in the bottle got the consumers’ attention as much as what was on it. In fact, he really needed to (and continues to need to) over-deliver, as many viewed the ‘Goats’ as trying to sell wine based on the attention that the labels received. There are many wines with better looking labels that have come and gone in the time that ‘Goats’ has been around…
Charles Back says:
“When we had the idea to produce this wine we were in a little bit of a rush to get the label finalised. We had spoken to our UK importer and they were very keen to have the wine on their shelves. Anthony Lane designed the label but when it came back from the printer the colour was nothing like what was planned. But time was pressing so we had to send the order and the rather garish yellow has become characteristic!”
Goats do Roam was launched before the critter craze really hit the market and may be seen as one of the brands that pioneered this trend, but Back doesn’t really view the Goats as critter labels. A lot of thought goes into the labels and there is a story attached to each. They are more than just quirky illustrations.
The Goats do Roam wines first hit the UK scene in late 1999, selling in retailers including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield, Majestic and many others, for a number of years. However, as the supermarket wine retail environment changed, Charles Back felt that this was no longer the appropriate channel for the Goats do Roam brand and he made the bold decision to pull his wines from the UK supermarket shelves. At the same time he had been focusing energy on the ‘emerging’ US market, after launching the ’99 vintage Goats do Roam Red there in 2001. The brand was well received in the USA, quickly becoming the top selling South African wine brand in the country, which Back flippantly writes off to “a big piece of a small pie” (South African wine accounts for around 2% of wine sold in the USA). This achievement has also assisted in attracting attention to the South African wines category.
The Goats were given a shot in the arm in August 2003 when the brand received coverage on CNN and BBC following a demonstration at the French embassy in Cape Town. The French had objected to the registration of ‘Goats do Roam’ in the US, saying that it was a direct play on the French appellation Côtes du Rhône. This was dismissed by Charles at the time as pure coincidence, alluding to the farm’s roaming herd of some 700 goats. A large group of placard-waving employees demonstrated in Cape Town, culminating in the presentation of a magnum of Goats do Roam Red and a rather symbolic bag of goat manure, labelled ‘Goats do Poo’! The exposure kick-started the brand in the USA and the threats of litigation fell silent.
Over the last twenty years, our vineyard plantings have matured to an extent that allows us to constantly improve the quality of fruit that is used in our Goats do Roam wines, and we look forward to continue to do so.