Ambeloui is not just any sparkling wine farm – it is the epitome of a family business. Started in 1996 by Nick Christodoulou, a financial sector employee with no wine experience at the time, it has grown to become a firm favourite in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa. We spoke to his son Alexis, who has since taken over the running of the business, to find out a bit more of the story.
The Ambeloui Story
We moved from Pretoria to Cape Town when my dad bought a piece of land in Hout Bay. He knew he wanted to do something and one of his friends suggested he plant grapes. So the next logical step was he wanted to make wine. He decided on MCC sparkling wine because he wanted to make only the best. At that time he didn’t have a clue how to make wine – he just went for it.
In that time we started off with our first vintage which couldn’t have been more than 500 bottles. Because my dad still worked full time, he wasn’t able to sell the wine constantly. That’s why we only have the sale once a year. He started a culture of selling to all the people that he knew and through word of mouth it slowly started to take off. Now we’re selling out close to 10 000 bottles, which is still small in the larger scheme of MCC making but we don’t want to compromise quality – we find if we made too much, quality would decrease.
How did people pay before Yoco?
Up until last year we only ever accepted cash, cheques and EFT’s at the sale. We had people coming to a sale day with a cheque book where the last cheque that was written was the previous year at the sale day – they literally just had cheque books to come and buy wine from us. Other people would come with big wads of cash and we had to start hiring really tight security.
Alexis discovered Yoco through a family friend and found that it was the perfect solution for Ambeloui.
Why not get a normal card machine?
The reason we never got a credit card machine before was that other payment providers charge you monthly rental all year round, even if you’re not using the device. You had to sign a contract for at least a year, regardless of how often you transact. I also really dislike the payments provider I use personally, and I didn’t feel like dealing with them on another level.
With Yoco, there are no monthly rental or admin fees and no lock-in contract.
But, most importantly there’s no way any other company would have gone to the lengths that Yoco did to help us out.