Successful gastro-entrepreneur, polo player and now also winery operator: Cédric Schweri has many passions in life. In POLO+10, the Swiss and grandson of the founder of Denner AG talks about fine wines, professional goals and the polo tournament of his heart.
© Cédric Schweri, private
“we want to become the best bordeaux blend winery in south africa!”
When and how did you first discover your passion for winegrowing, cattle breeding and gastronomy?
As the son of a hotelier, I was practically born with this passion. However, my father wanted to make a middle school student out of me rather than a chef. In the end, however, the cook prevailed and the first important step for my career was taken.
As the main shareholder of the top South African winery De Toren, what are the biggest challenges for you at the moment?
The period under the impact of the Covid pandemic was of course difficult for all of us. There were various obstacles, such as export bans. However, we used this phase creatively, developed new products and completed the restructuring of the winery, and also developed a new marketing strategy. Thanks to these actions, we were able to take off again powerfully in a top position, increase our sales channels – and are now selling more wine than ever before.
What are your medium- to long-term goals in this business field?
We want to become the best Bordeaux blend winery in South Africa without any ifs or buts. To actually achieve this goal, we have acquired additional land on which we are now in the process of planting new vines. We also want to launch two additional products and push our rosé wine even further.
What makes De Toren unique and special for you?
It is mainly the soil that determines the particular quality of a wine. We have more than 20 different soil types on our estate – and depending on the grape variety, one type is better than the other. But if you find the ideal soil, you get top quality grapes and this is then reflected in the wine. Another big plus is of course the elevated location with the cooling sea breeze.
In the fall De Toren brings a pure Malbec, Made in South Africa, in limited bottling on the market. What can wine connoisseurs look forward to?
I brought my passion for Malbec with me from Argentina, of course, and I quickly came to the conclusion that it should be possible to develop a top product with the help of the African climate. After some trial and error, I think we have really managed to bring a pinch of Argentina to Africa.
© Cédric Schweri, private
You‘ve also been a passionate polo player for years and travel the world for your sport, you‘re a father of three, and you‘d also like to set up a professional polo horse breeding program in the near future. How do you manage to combine these different worlds? Just by looking at your schedule?
Fortunately, it‘s much easier nowadays, because you can do a lot of things virtually. The issue of children, such as coordination with school, is a completely different challenge. But with the vacations it actually goes quite well, then I usually pick them up in Switzerland and then they just come to wherever we are. What‘s very important to me is that when I spend time with my children, I‘m also always fully there for them; place great value on the quality and the very conscious use of that time. In my eyes, that‘s worth more than when parents are around a lot but don‘t really care and instead just work through a mandatory program.
What highlights are still on the agenda for you in the current polo season?
Besides the German Polo Masters on Sylt, which are always a highlight for me, I‘m also particularly looking forward to the Gold Cup in Gstaad and the Season Closing in Villa a Sesta in Italy.
Is there a tournament that is particularly close to your heart?
My favorite is Gstaad, because it‘s always special when you can play in front of your home crowd. The mountains and the food – it all always gives me that wonderful feeling of home.