With a charming grin “I am a Vaalie ! I was born in Roodepoort !”
Q. How on earth did you get from there to making wine in the Cape ?
“Our family holidays usually resulted in a great exodus to the Cape. We would travel from wine farm to wine farm and my parents would taste while I would observe. It wasn’t boring. Instead I observed in awe. It was while I was walking through the old Glen Carlow cellar with the then assistant, Arco Laarman, that I decided the Winemaker lifestyle was for me. No sitting behind a desk or computer !”
Q. Where did you study ?
“I did my studies in Viticulture and Oenology at Elsenburg.” Then continues with a smile “I am pleased to say I passed !” and adds “I might not be the most flamboyant winemaker around but a love what I do”
Q. Your record shows you do what you love pretty well ?
“Yes, I have managed a few awards for Mount Vernon Wines.”
Q. Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be different to others ?
“I have tasted some great wines of the world and this has made me strive to reflect the unique virtues of the vineyard in each wine I make. This involves minimal intervention and adjustments, and the use of uncultivated yeasts. I don’t believe this approach to winemaking is new, but I do feel it is becoming more common as winemakers start to understand and appreciate the vineyards they work with.”
Q. You mention the vineyard. How involved to you get in the vineyard ?
“I believe the greatest wines are made in the vineyard so I strive to spend as much time in the vineyard as possible, but I am also very fortunate to work with a great a great viticulturist and farm manager that has a great understanding of our vineyards.”
Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?
With a wry smile “That would be like having to choose your favourite child….. However, if I were forced to choose I would still have half a dozen led by Riesling and Chardonnay then Semillon, Cab and Syrah.”
Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or by a wine region ?
In a serious vein “I have been very fortunate to have met and worked with some truly inspirational and knowledgeable winemakers whom have had a profound impact on my approach to viticulture and winemaking. The start of my winemaking career at Jordan Wine Estate most definitely put me on the right path. As for wine regions, I aspire to travel to make wine in every winemaking country in the world !!”
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a Winemaker ?
With a serious smile “Waking up and being able to do what I do what I am truly passionate about each day of my life is something I don’t believe any gong could trump”
Q. What “secrets “ have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?
“No secrets or tricks. Just respect for the vine and cellar hygiene is critically important as a winemaker.”
Q How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?
“There are plenty of “toys” for winemakers, and I would imagine one could get pretty carried away, but other than a pneumatic press and a little micro oxygenation unit, the cellar is kept fairly simple.”
Q. And the future ?
“Winemaking has been an all consuming passion from my early teenage years and I look forward to being able to craft some truly memorable wines. In the meantime, I will steal with my ears and eyes and continue to tatse those rare and treasured gems. The future can only be exciting.”