In Interview with a winemaker

Q. When and where were you born ?

“I was born on 10th January 1967 in Wellington and grew up on a wine farm.”

Q. Where did you study and what qualifications do you have ?

“I went to Elsenberg Agricultural College and did cellar technology. I did various marketing and management courses through the University of Stellenbosch. I also did all the official wine judging certificates which enabled me to judge on all the various competitions.”

Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?

He answers as if that was a dumb question !  “Obviously Chenin Blanc and Pinotage.”

Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?

“When I first started working I was an assistant winemaker to the legendary Dassie Smith of Rooiberg Wines.  He taught me discipline, the importance of hygiene  in the cellar and  to pay attention to detail.” After a little thought “ Ja, Dassie was a great and very positive influence.”

Q. What would you consider  your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?

“The first ABSA Top Ten Pinotage Competition  when my pinotage under the Swartland label was one of the top ten. Then when I started  my own brand, Blake Family Wines, our maiden vintage, Blake’s  Amethyst 2011 was selected as one of the ABSA  Perold Top Five Cape Blend winners.”

Q. What “secrets” have you “developed”  that make your wines  different to others ?

“ Not really a secret, but attention to detail, hard work and a passion is the golden key.”

Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?

“It is very important, but it is not the only important thing. Things well away from equipment such as Terroir, good winemaking practices  and attention to detail are all more important than equipment.”

Q. You have recently made some interesting changes  to your career ?

“Yes, after 19 vintages at Swartland I started my own brand of Blake Family Wines. Then in November 2013 I left Swartland and took up an interesting challenge as CEO of Klawer Wines. I still do my own brand.

Q. Of the future ?

“ I think wine prices will increase drastically over the next few years as there will be a shortage of quality wine. I intend to be in the quality wine business. !” After some thought he adds “Marinda, my wife, and I are very proud of the success of our wines and they are named after gems, Tourmaline and Amethyst, and we intend to treat them as such.”

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