What do you get when you combine good wine, a muddy driveway and a bargain-hunter's nose? Well, Wonky Wines, of course!
Wonky Wines, which began six years ago and is based out of Somerset West in the Western Cape, sells and delivers fabulous wines at wholesale prices, direct to the public.
This small company is another true-to-life reflection of the many smart, ingenious entrepreneurs that make me proud to be a South African.
Kathy Austen, owner of Wonky Wines, tells us how it was her annoyingly muddy driveway that gave her the incentive she needed to get started.
Kathy left the financial services industry to become a stay-at-home mom—and then realised that staying at home was a muddy mess when those rainy winters hit home.
In the beginning
It all started when Kathy’s daily to-do list took her to the door of a very reasonably priced wine vendor. Delighted with his wife's bargain discovery, Kathy's husband shared the news with all their friends. It didn’t take long before Kathy was being asked by all her friends and acquaintances to pick up their wine too.
And then winter came, and with it, driving rains that transformed her unpaved driveway into a muddy mess.
Turning an annoyance into an incentive
Kathy says, "My plan began simply enough. My first goal was to pave the driveway. The schlep of running back and forth between the car and the house with my two small children in tow, plus boxes and boxes of wine - it just didn't work. It was horrible."
"And then I thought, here I am running around for everyone else at my expense. What if I charged just enough to cover my petrol expenses plus a little extra to get that driveway paved?"
Kathy says that's where she started to dream. What, for instance, if she started a little discount wine business of her own…?
Despite an initially skeptical husband, by the end of the second month Kathy was in a position to apply for a liquor licence and by the third month had made enough to have the driveway paved!
So how does it work?
Kathy has figured out how to make where she lives (the heart of the winelands), her vivacious personality and her financial background work for her.
Over time, Wonky Wines has built up trusted relationships with local wine farms. She works with them to offer customers a selection of often-changing wines from end-of-range and clearance sales, excess exports and the like.
Wonky Wines has also worked hard to build her customer base. She’s expanded her initial offerings (wine sales and delivery) to include quarterly wine tastings in the Western Cape - wine tastings that are, as she puts it, "wonkylicious".
These wine tastings work hand-in-hand with wine farms to showcase their venues.
Kathy says, "Our wine tastings provide exposure for the wine farms because people can't get to all the dozens and dozens of amazing wine farms in this region. So when they realise that this one has this great view or this great wine or that great venue or this really great service, then they come back."
These "wonkylicious" wine tastings are - apparently - something of a novelty. They include a full meal, live music and a guided (by Kathy herself) wine tasting of eight new wines - all in venues that frequently offer breathtaking views and a lekker kuier with old and new friends.