What appeared to be one of South Africa's most promising dotcom wine experiments has failed, draining the region of SAR20m along the way.

WineWays started out as the flagship division of the Converge Group, operating as a "click and mortar" operation. Besides its dotcom site, it also operated an ultra-modern wine centre near Stellenbosch, where it had hoped to attract a portion of the millions of visitors to the Cape's winelands each year.

Speculation is the company's debts are as high as SAR27m but Craig Hawthorne, a Cape Town-based liquidator, who is managing the process, said he could not verify the amount as a forensic audit was still underway.

WineWays ceased trading almost to the day, one year after opening its doors and the liquidators were only able to salvage a paltry SAR580,000 from the assets auctioned at the wine centre. The various batches of wine only fetched about SAR25,000 of the total.

The Converge and WineWays concept was a dream that was probably ahead of its time for South Africa, trying to incorporate a multi-faceted approach to tourism, wine marketing, sales, distribution and information technology.