Who We Are
The Castel Winery
Castel Group was established in Bordeaux, France in 1949 by Founder Pierre Castel and his 8 brothers and sisters. Growing up in the vineyards of Bordeaux, wine was already an integral part of their daily lives. Theirs truly is a family affair. Their driving principle was to share their love of wine and other high-quality products in a way, which fulfills every customer's expectations. With this ethos firmly in mind, in the 50's and the 60's, the Group embarked upon an internal expansion by setting up bottling plants. Keeping intact their special attachment to the internationally acclaimed wine making region of Bordeaux, the Group expanded to other known wine making regions of France like the Loire, the Rhone, Burgundy, Provence, the Languedoc and the South West.
Later in late 60's and 70's, growth continued with a succession of acquisitions; first of regional, then national and finally international companie trading in wine. In the late 80's; when Castel Group acquired Nicolas, it became the owner of largest chain of specialist wine stores all over Europe. The 90's and the 00' also saw much growth and acquisitions. Such examples are the acquisition of the Societe des Vins de France in 1992 (which was Castel Group's main rival in the wine sector and the second largest wine trader in France), Domaines Virginie in 1999 (exporters of top of the range wines from Languedoc Roussillon), Sautejeau-Bauquin (number 1 in Muscadet) and Friedrich (number one in box wines) in 2007 and Oeno Alliance in Bordeaux which is among the top 10 leaders in the industry in 2008. Meanwhile, Castel Group was also busy establishing a reputation in the beer and soft drinks sector in many parts of Africa. The Group becomes one of the key players in the continent when they acquired BGI (Brasseries et Glacieres Internationales) in 1990. Through hard work, resilience and innovation, and under the guiding hand of Founding President Pierre Castel, today the Group has become the largest wine producer in France and Europe and the third largest wine producer worldwide, and became the owner of the second largest beer and soft drinks business in Africa.
Conception and Birth of a Winery
On a sunny Monday afternoon in 2007, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, his Excellency Meles Zenawi and Mr. Pierre Castel, Founder and President of the Castel Group and BGI International were having discussion on further investments in Ethiopia. The solemn discussion took a turn for a friendly chat and banter about Castel family’s numerous exploits in the wine making business and the Prime Minister's fondness for a single glass of red wine once a week. That afternoon, the idea for establishing Castel winery in Ethiopia is conceived and born in the Prime Minister's office. After a deal was struck to establish a Winery in Ethiopia, Castel Group wasted no time in sending the best experts and consultants in the business from France to select the most suitable area for a vineyard which can meet Castel Family's strict and three generations old quality wine making standards and criteria.
Ziway, situated around 1600 above sea level, with sub-humid to sub- arid climate, Sandy Loam type of soil variety, mean annual precipitation of 650 to 700 mm and it’s all year average temperature of 25 degree centigrade is deemed suitable for the grape varieties imported directly from Bordeux. On May 12, 2007 with the presence of the State Minister of Industry His Excellency Ato Tadesse Hile and other guests and dignitaries, the first vine was planted, heralding the birth of Castel Winery in Ethiopia. Plantation of all the grape varieties lasted until the beginning of 2009. At the start of 2011, while the grapes are maturing in the vineyard, construction of the state of the art winery went underway and completed in less than a year.After a thorough investigation by the panel of experts, the town of Ziway, in the Oromia Regional State (located 163 kilometers from the capital Addis Ababa) was selected.
A Responsible Player
As the 3rd largest wine producer in the world and the 2nd largest beer and soft drinks business in Africa, it is only natural that Castel Group is committed to their corporate responsibilities, be their social, economic or environmental. For the Castel Group, sustainable development is as much an urgent economic necessity as an essential part of social cohesion. The Group’s unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability and protection, social development in Ziway and in Ethiopia as a whole, is derived from their traditional core value of accepting responsibilities both for the locales they operate in and their inhabitants, as well as future generations.
The organic farming method introduced and employed in the development of Zeway Vineyard is conducted within the boundaries of the new Environmental Management System (EMS), through other internationally recognized accreditations such as Terra Vitis and local standards and laws. Apart from the obvious results of its massive investment in the region (employment, skill and knowledge transfer, income through taxation etc.), Castel Winery has been participating in the area's socio- economic development through its carefully planned Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.
Some of Castel Winery's projects under the auspices of its CSR program are results of huge investments. To name a few notable examples; its support for the ongoing afforestation programs in the region, water well drilling and development for provision of clean water, financial support of development of necessary infrastructures, provision of modern housing for more than 11 households etc.