The KWV has come a long way in the past two decades. For most of the 20th century it served the interests of politicians and producers, rather than wine drinkers. As the national wine co-operative, it enjoyed untrammelled statutory powers, partly because it was obliged to act as the buyer of last resort.

Deregulation enabled it to convert to a commercial enterprise but shackled it to the rules of the marketplace. Like a long-term prisoner released from the routine of institutional incarceration, it wandered around in something of a daze for several years.

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