The delayed Shamwari brand joint venture, which started between Stellenbosch Vineyards from South Africa and BRL Hardy from Australia, has finally taken off with US giant Constellation Wines.

Constellation acquired BRL Hardy last year.

Stellenbosch Vineyards MD, Hermann Böhmer, said today that after the takeover there was a period of assimilation between the US and Australian companies.

"Constellation had to see whether it had the energy and will to start up a new joint venture. Being small, we had found a kindred spirit with the guys from BRL Hardy, where we felt our JV would not be swallowed by a big guy.

"The next minute the big guy got swallowed by an even bigger guy and we had to step back and see whether this would work.

"Once Constellation had sorted themselves out we were able to discuss it and then proceed. We now have listings in the UK, with both grocers as well as the wholesale trade, as well as Ireland and Scandinavia," said Böhmer.

He said a low-level launch of the range was underway in South Africa. Initially the brand would have a Chardonnay, a Shiraz and a Cabernet-Merlot and the aim was to grow it to at least a million case trademark.

"When you dealing with a company like Constellation you have to have volumes with at least seven zeros after the comma to even register on the radar screen. That is our opportunity and challenge for the future, he added.