The launch date has been set for the first South African/American wine joint venture. 

Vilafonté, a project between South Africa's Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Estate in Stellenbosch, and American husband and wife wine duo Zelma Long and Phil Freese will make its debut in London on May 24th.

Freese, who worked for 13 years as vice president of Vineyards at Mondavi, has designed the vineyards on the Northern Paarl side of the Simonsberg in Stellenbosch; Long, who has also been involved in winemaking at Mondavi and Simi in Sonoma, is in charge of the winemaking, while Mike Ratcliffe, owner of Warwick Estate is the wine's General Manager.

"The opportunity to work together on this project has been a revelation," said Ratcliffe. "We are delighted with the quality that is coming from our terroir and look forward to the launch of the wines and the ongoing development of Vilafonté."

Total global production in the first year is 3,500 cases, though this is expected to reach 5,000 cases by 2007.

Vilafonté wines will be imported into the UK market by Louis Latour Ltd.