Part 4 of Memoirs of Cape Wine Import

Insight Magazine continues to follow two young female entrepreneurs, starting a wine import from scratch during one of the most challenging times in modern history.

Written by: Carina Elise Godou


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Part four of their story, this time with the special story of how these women expanded to importing gin.

Our company name represents our starting point; Cape Town is where we located our first products (through Mia’s great taste), and our first shipments consisted of wine only. Many have asked us if the purpose of the name is to show our business area, but that’s not necessarily the case.

We do, however, strive for consistency to a certain extent—at least within the first few years of business. We decided to respectfully decline any inquiries from both producers and acquaintances asking us to include certain wines and other liquor to our portfolio. Now, why our network continues to reach out to us is painfully understandable. The endless bureaucracy of getting the Norwegian import license for alcohol is one thing, but keeping it is a whole different chapter. As a holder of this license you are obliged to follow a very strict and comprehensive set of rules and requirements. Obviously it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to establish their own import company as a hobby. It would be an expensive and extremely time-consuming leisure activity.

The requests keep coming in to both Mia and I, and we don’t even have time to answer all of them. A little hack; If you’re ever applying for an agreement with the Wine Monopoly, use your business-email, not your personal. My registered email now happens to be on a list of Norwegian importers, which turns out to be worth no less than solid gold for producers all around the world. Clearly they all want Norwegian clients. We decided; Wine it is, at least for now.

The right spirit

We were extremely excited when our first shipment arrived.

Nevertheless, our plans changed when we discovered Cape Town Gin. A friend of mine, Christine, told me she and her friends were obsessed with this gin when they lived in Cape Town. Immediately I thought we wouldn’t have the capacity to even consider new products yet, but I noticed that the brand had received a lot of awards. Also, we couldn’t ignore their extremely attractive bottles. I asked Mia’s opinion, and we did some research. As it turns out, some other friends of ours were also familiar with the brand. After only getting positive feedback, we decided to contact the producer. They could tell us that they were in fact very interested in getting into the Scandinavian market – of course.

Should we do it?

We knew that if we were to import any hard liquor, gin would be the natural choice. For the last few years, gin has really become the go-to for Norwegians of all ages. The increasing popularity is understandable; a good gin has been my personal favorite for years.

Every cl counts!

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the producers’ positive attitude towards any inquiries we had. We had a few! For instance, we wanted the bottles to be tapped on different sizes than they already offered. Their current ones were 75 cl, but we wanted 70 cl, which is standard in Norway. The customers would probably not notice any difference, but 5 cl times 43% alcohol times numerous taxes and fees equals expensive. We wanted to compete on the exact same level as our competitors. Cape Town Gin & Spirits Company made it happen, and we placed our order. Let the import be-gin!

Lesson #4 to Aspiring Wine Importers: 
Don’t be impressed by a big portfolio,

but a good one.

We had some guts and ordered a few more pallets than we initially thought. We had a good feeling about this little expanding project of ours. The shipment consisted of mainly pink gin, as we were told was responsible for around 80% of the sales in Cape Town. Somewhat surprising, it was the red gin that caught the Norwegians’ attention. This is flavored with South African rooibos, like the tea. Shortly after we registered the products on the Wine Monopolys’ website, the red one received some shelf spots from the Wine Monopoly itself. This quickly became the bestseller, and it has continued to sell in very large quantities. The pink one is also one that really stands out, with its wonderful taste of rose leaves and hibiscus.

Mia and I have definitely found a new favorite activity, which is to daily update all our eight products on the Norwegian Wine Monopoly’s website to see how many bottles are located at the different stores at any given time. We keep track of every shelf spot, and we celebrate every time one of our products is placed on display in a new store. This is truly a lifestyle on so many levels…

We can’t wait to see which amazing new bottles our future will bring, but for now we are more than incredibly happy with our current ones. •