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Waitrose and Mullineux & Leeu launch co-ownership wine brand

Published:  23 March, 2021

Waitrose has joined forces with South Africa’s Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines to launch its first co-ownership wine brand.

The Great Heart Wine brand, developed by Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines and its employees, forms part of the producer’s new staff empowerment project, which is aimed at improving the livelihoods of those who work for the company and their families. 

Conceived during the first South African lockdown last year – when an export and domestic sales ban was put in place – the wine brand is collectively owned by the winery staff. 

Profits from all sales under the label will go directly to them, with staff set to receive their first dividends from Great Heart sales in May this year. 

“We all know how difficult the last year has been, especially for our wonderful producers in South Africa and anything we can do to help the industry is incredibly important to us,” said Victoria Mason, South African wine buyer at Waitrose. 

“These wines are particularly special to me personally and the whole John Lewis Partnership, as they share our same core values as our co-owned business,” she added.

The employees' initiative came about as winery founders Andrea and Chris Mullineux considered how they could reward and uplift their team, with lockdown galvanised the idea of starting a wine brand that was collectively owned by their employees. 

“To thank our employees who have shown commitment, we have made those who have worked for our winery for two years shareholders of Great Heart Wines,” said Andrea Mullineux.  

“They will directly benefit from the sales of Great Heart. The pursuit of the greater good, especially in business, is not a given, but it’s one that rings louder and truer for us with each passing moment,” she said.  

Chris Mullineux added: “Great Heart is our way of addressing an array of important issues in our industry today. A heartfelt thank you to Waitrose for their belief and support for this very special project.”

Launching online and in Waitrose shops this week, the first wine duo from the venture comprises a Swartland Chenin Blanc (£14.99) alongside a Swartland Red blend (£14.99). 

Last month Love Wine, co-founded by Richard Bampfield MW, held virtual fundraising tastings to raise funds for the South African wine industry, which featured a case specially selected by Waitrose.