The Kukkus behind Darlington
What do you get when you put together a wise, good humoured, seasoned gentlemanly wine and spirit industry veteran; a determined, dedicated, service oriented and blooming food and wine foodie; and a structured, disciplined, business-oriented, and philosophical industrial psychologist?
Blended together with a strong and shared sense of purpose, authenticity and humanity you get the team behind Darlington Gin.
Charles Withington is something of a veteran in the wine business. After working for many years at leading wine estates he set about producing his own small range of wines and later the much loved Voorkamer Cape Brandy.
In 2011 he opened the Darling Wine Shop which has become the “home of Darling wine” and an outlet that has garnered much respect over the years, attracting visitors from all around. Charles is known for his exceptional customer service ethic and will always go out of his way to respond to customers’ needs and expectations. He has the uncanny ability to use his extensive network of business relationships, family and friends to achieve what would seem impossible to most people.
Charles is the Darlington team’s wise and battle-scarred master craftsman, networker, problem-solver and workhorse. He always operates in crisis mode. If there is not a crisis he will create one so that he can go and fix it. He is military grade and when things get tough he knows how to create a smoke screen and push through any obstacle.
Ida Opperman manages the Darling Wine Shop. She has a particular connection with customers who immediately warm to her on entering the shop and engaging with her. Irrespective of whether she is dealing with a customer in the shop, at their premises, on the telephone or online, she always treats them with the utmost courtesy and respect.
Ida is a foodie with a keen interest in everything about food, wine, spirits, food and wine pairing, wine tastings, gin blends and infusions. She has developed her own food brand, “By Ida”, and is successfully producing her own food items including bottled beetroot and onion marmalade with others to follow.
She has a background in food science which is evident in her continuous demands that everything must be “food grade” and meticulously prepared and maintained according to the highest standard. You just know that you will hear about it if anything is out of place. Although she is a good-natured and gentle lady, both driven and determined, you can rely on her to see through whatever she takes on.
Bringing order and calm to what is often a hectic environment. Ida is the Darlington team’s steadfast organizer, quality controller, promoter, shop presence and stabilizer. If she is not around for a few days an increasingly ominous vibe develops as if something bad is going to happen, or to put it more simply the wheels come off!
Riaan Neethling is an Industrial Psychologist and Management Consultant. He spent most of his working life in the corporate environment in mainly human resources and general management roles. In 2007 he decided to “retire” from the corporate world and to focus on consulting. At this point he moved from Gauteng to Darling with a strong intention to refocus his priorities and to live a more balanced, meaningful and fulfilling life.
Riaan has a particular interest in human consciousness and the important role it plays in people’s lives and in making them who and what they are. He believes that many people’s lives have become so “automated” that they no longer know who they really are and what they believe in and stand for. He is an advocate for the transformation of human consciousness and the advancement of higher levels of morality and ethics at all levels in society.
These days Riaan is also involved in various charitable and community support initiatives as a volunteer. His areas of focus are leadership support, transformation, conflict resolution, community development and coaching.
Now “re-tyred” with a new set of Firestones, Riaan is the Darlington team’s structural and analytical planner, disciplinarian, follow-upper, devil’s advocate, philosopher and bottle washer. He is allergic to negative doom-and-gloom people and believes that a good sense of humour is an essential requirement to deal with the curved balls of life.