Douglas Green Jnr, one of the legends of the South African wine industry and synonymous with one of the country’s leading brands, passed away at the age of 89. He died on November 10 at his Somerset-West home.
He was the son of Douglas Green, who founded the world-famous wine company in Paarl in 1942, and built it to into a household name.
Green Jnr, his father and his forebearers were all involved in EK Green, another a wine company that was established in 1842. When the depression era began in 1929, the shareholders decided to disband the company for economic reasons.
Here after, Green Snr began the company in Paarl.
“We were living in Newlands at the time and I was at school at Bishops. My father would spend a lot of time in Paarl as it was war-time and petrol was rationed. When we were together at home there would always be a decanter of sherry on the table. My sister and I were encouraged to have a glass and wine was a part of my life from an early age,” Green Jnr said during an interview before his death.
Green Jnr’s mother was from the Boland De Villiers family, who established the Paarl Wine and Brandy Company.
“As a young boy I’d join my dad at the Douglas Green cellars and run about the barrels chasing rats and getting up to no good. But I liked the cellar smells, the talk of the workers, the sounds of rattling bottles. It stuck,” he said.
“Douglas Green bore my father’s name, but also represented what he wanted people to experience in the wines,” he added. “We had close relationships with grape growers and winemakers around the Cape and once their wines were delivered to Douglas Green, we would blend them into various brands. Quality and consistency were his aims, wanting the wine-buyer to simply enjoy a bottle of Douglas Green so much that they’d buy another the next day. Me and my father were not keen on meetings and office-talk – we liked to be among the barrels overseeing the bottles, on the bottling-line checking that everything was running smoothly, talking to the farmers in the vineyards.”
In 1956, Green Jnr married Ena van Aarde with whom he had three children. They were married for 61 years until she passed away.
Green Jnr leaves behind his children Adrienne, Anthony and Robbin.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, November 26 at the Pniel Congregational Church.
Picture: Douglas Green