In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where do you originate ? 

“I was born in Port Elizabeth in 1983.”

Q. Where did you study ? 

“I went to University of Stellenbosch where I did a BSc Agric. (Viticulture and Oenology)

Q. Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be different to others ?

“Not really, but the focus of my job is to create wines for specific markets. So this provides a great variety of type and style to produce. The goal is to make enjoyable, good value wines.”

Q.  How involved to you get in the vineyard ? 

“ Very. During harvest I have to make the decisions around when to harvest and so on. I try to work with the growers as far as possible. It helps to have a long-term approach to get the vineyard to where it needs to be.”

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

“I enjoy Chenin Blanc and Rhone varieties in particular. They are  all well suited to region where we grow grapes which is Paarl.”

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

“I wouldn’t say so, but I learn something new every day. For me the beauty of wine is that one can spend your whole life in the industry and still only know half of what there is to know.”

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

With a wry grin “Getting through the harvest without too many hiccups !!”

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

“Maybe not any secret. I started my career working in big wineries, often handling over a 1000 tons per day I think it taught me to stay focussed when the pressure was on.  Planning helps too.. “  and adds “Maybe not a secret but planning is essential.”

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

With serious expression “It plays a huge role. Mostly the innovation around alternative oak, tannins, enzymes are exciting. I think these things have played a massive role in getting rid of really undrinkable wines of a few years ago in the value for money wines.”

Q. How about the future ? 

“After completion of my studies in Stellenbosch I worked a few harvests abroad.  Germany, California and New Zealand which gave me an excellent perspective from a totally different point that we have in South Africa. Then I worked in Robertson for a few years before joining Man Vintners in 2011 where the future certainly looks good for our exports.  I enjoy being part of a vibrant team. Things certainly look bright for the future with many new developments on the horizon.  I hope to see South Africa’s wine exports growing. South Africa desperately needs more visibility and recognition overseas.”

Q. You differ from a lot of winemakers in that you are also a Cape Wine Master ?

“ Yes, I felt I needed a better understanding of wine styles, laws,  varieties and history here and in other countries. One can’t travel everywhere so it is a great opportunity to drink and learn about wines from elsewhere in the world. I also enjoy being part of a group of knowledgeable people  with a common interest. There are a number of other winemakers who are also Cape Wine Masters with one of the earliest being Jeff Grier of Villiera.

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