With its Black Empowerment programme rooted in idealism yet driven by pragmatism, Solms-Delta is known as one of the country’s most progressive wine estates – and one that generates real results.
When Mark Solms took over the Delta farm, he began by convincing the farm’s virtually indentured tenants that his intentions to institute land reforms were genuine. In 2005, the Solms family established the Wijn de Caab Trust to benefit the 200 historically disadvantaged residents and employees of the Solms-Delta wine estate. He then persuaded long-time friend, philanthropist Richard Astor, scion of a celebrated Anglo-American family, to buy the neighbouring farm, in order to increase the estate’s development capital. Solms and Astor, in an unprecedented move, then both put their farms up as collateral so that a third, adjoining farm could be purchased by the workers.
The Wijn de Caab Trust now has a 33% equity stake in Solms-Delta, and the profit from wine sales has been used to build and refurbish decent and comfortable homes for the workers and their families, create recreational facilities, and provide myriad other social services (including private education and healthcare) that benefit all. Every employee now has an interest in making Solms-Delta a success.
With the Wijn de Caab Trust solely benefiting their employees and farm residents, Solms and Astor then turned to the Franschhoek Valley and broader Cape Winelands district. In 2007, the two families established the privately funded Delta Trust, which seeks to facilitate an inclusive sense of community through educational, cultural, sporting and social programmes.