Kosie Möller
With the first grapes of the season starting to roll into the Cape's cellars, KWV's high profile chief cellarmaster, Kosie Möller, has resigned his position with immediate effect.

In a shock move on Friday, Möller vacated his post, which is to be filled temporarily by Sterik de Wet, who was promoted out of the position about seven years ago.

Rumours about his sudden departure were rife in the company and the industry today, but it has been said there is nothing sinister about the move.

A low-key media release by KWV today highlighted Möller's latest achievement, a 92 point rating for his 1997 Roodeberg red wine by the Wine Enthusiast magazine in the US.

Vernon Davis, MD of KWV International said: "Our talented winemaker, Kosie Möller, has done a fantastic job and, of his many achievements, this is surely a major one received timeously, as he feels that the time has arrived for him to broaden his horizons."

Willem Bestbier, KWV SA's MD, added, "that as KWV's product portfolio is now established, Kosie requires new challenges, therefore he has decided to involve himself in the broader wine industry."

Bestbier claimed nothing sinister should be read into the move and that the decision of a clean break before the harvest had been made, rather than end up with an ex-winemaker's name on a vintage.

When approached for comment, Möller was reluctant to discuss the incident. Even though he was upbeat about his prospects, he obviously did not want to sour relations with his former employers.

Möller echoed the low-key statement issued by the company about his departure. He said: "At harvest time you need to be focussed and this was not happening, so I asked for my resignation to be accepted with immediate effect.

"It's not a good time to leave, but it is the best time for both KWV and myself."

He said talks were taking place with various parties, but did not want to comment further until he had finalised his plans.

"I will be doing a harvest this year, because it is too valuable to miss one. After that I will look at longer term plans in the industry. I must also give credit to the people in KWV who understood that my sole aim was to produce quality wines."

Möller has over the past nine years worked and travelled extensively in all the major wine producing countries of the world, as well as the major markets which stock South African wines.

Sources in the company said Bestbier arrived at the cellar early yesterday and informed Möller's immediate personnel that he had already departed and De Wet would be in charge of this year's harvest.

After joining the company nine years ago, Möller had a meteoric rise in the company and was appointed as red wine and then chief cellarmaster in the mid-1990s. Since then his wines have won the highest number medals at international and national competitions and shows.