A group of five Boland wineries have joined forces to create a new marketing company aimed at tackling foreign markets as a unit, rather than fight each other for crumbs in strategic US, European and Far East markets.

Boland Cellar from Paarl, Riebeeck Cellars from Riebeeck Kasteel and three Wellington-based cellars, Bovlei, Wellington and Wamakersvallei, have come together in this joint venture with a Cape Town management services company, Strategy Partners.

The five cellars will operate a production company called Cape Coastal Vineyards, which in turn will have a 40% share in the marketing company Cape Coastal Wines. Strategy Partners and a black empowerment partner each have a 26% stake and the remaining shares will be available to independent investors.

First on their list is the highly complex US market, where they are completing a comprehensive study to establish exactly what that market requires in terms of wine styles before entering it. They intend opening an office in the US within a year.

Equally important will be the EU and Far East markets.

The driving force behind the initiative is former KWV vice-chairman and present chairman of Boland Cellar, Jannie le Roux.

A huge advantage for the new venture is that the marketing company is largely "virtual".

"There will be minimal expenditure on bricks and mortar structures as everything can be managed from our offices and at vineyard and cellar level," said Le Roux.