Cape Winemakers Guild auctioneer gears up for his 20th auction


Seasoned auctioneer, Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers, will have his gavel at the ready for the 20th time at this year’s Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction to be held at Spier in Stellenbosch on Saturday, 30 September 2017.

This annual South African wine industry showcase now in its 33rd year, presents a treasure trove of rare, individually crafted wines of great diversity made exclusively for the auction by members of the Cape Winemakers Guild. Innovative winemaking is the hallmark of this auction that is open to the public and enjoys a loyal following of wine buyers and private collectors.

Over the past 20 years, Henré has seen the auction grow in stature from a niche event to the quintessential yardstick of South African wine achievement. He started his longstanding association with the Cape Winemakers Guild when he became the Guild’s auctioneer in 1998. Since then, the Guild membership has grown from 21 to 49 and the auction line-up has increased from just 28 wines with a total turnover of R1,17 million, to last year’s 52 wines and record sales exceeding R13,8 million. This year’s Guild Auction boasts a line-up of 61 singular wines featuring a host of interesting varieties, exciting blends and collaborative winemaking. 

“We congratulate Henré on his brilliant achievement as auctioneer of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction for the past two decades. As the bank of choice for the South African wine industry, we are proud of Nedbank’s 22 year partnership with the Guild and our mutually successful relationship and we look forward to another momentous auction with Henré holding the gavel,” says Becky Penumlungu, Nedbank Sponsorship Manager: Lifestyle Properties.

Besides the auction’s phenomenal growth in stature, for Henré one of the major changes has been the increase in larger lots: “Today there seem to be fewer small lots compared to the early auctions. These 2-case lots are sought-after by the private collector and typically fetch higher prices compared with the six and eight case lots that are usually bought by the trade.”

Henré has seen the number of local buyers, particularly private collectors, versus overseas buyers increase substantially in recent years. “This is a clear indication of the growing interest in the Guild wines locally,” he adds.

Years of experience have honed his skills and expertise at reading the auction floor and what buyers want: “You just develop a feel and rapport with them. Certain buyers sit in the same place in the auditorium year after year, others like to retain the same numbers. You get to know their choices, and can sometimes pre-empt when they are going to bid.”

Henré is a true master when it comes to keeping focus and the momentum going on auction day. With an interest in wine spanning over 41 years, he  has sound knowledge of the wine on auction and is well acquainted with many of the winemakers.

His association with the Cape Winemakers Guild runs far deeper than presiding over the annual auction. Since 2000, his business, Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers, has been a regular contributor to the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust and the Guild’s ground breaking Protégé Programme.