In Interview with a winemaker

I have judged wines with Johann and he is one of the most thorough, accurate,  correct and efficient judges I have worked with over all these years.  He has the outward appearance of being an easy going, easy smiling, amiable guy. This covers a deep passion to produce beautiful wines.

Q : How did you get to be the Chief Winemaker at the KWV ? 

With that pleasant smile “I graduated from Elsenburg/Cape Technikon with diplomas in Cellar Technology and Agriculture and a passion to make excellent wines that people would  want to drink” He continues without being asked  “I knew I could make wine but I wanted more so I enrolled  at University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and then went on to University of Melbourne in Australia where I added a certificate in Wine and Business Management and a Leadership Development qualification”.

Q : Then ?

“I came back to the real world of winemaking and viticulture and had four years at Badsberg Cellar in Rawsonville where I was promoted to Winemaker. Then I obtained  a position with the KWV in 2006 and had the great and invaluable experience of working with Richard Rowe.” (Johann  became Chief Winemaker in 2012)

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

A somewhat hesitant but smiley reply “ I am sort of half way between the exactness of Science and the unknown of art and somehow, this philosophy usually serves  as a bridge to bring them together.” He continues at a pace “I enjoy the weird and wonderful and being creative and following my instinct but I am also a firm believer that all of this needs to be backed by sound technical knowledge of what you are working with and how that reacts and interacts when used in different ways and how then to go about things.”

Q : How involved do you get with the vineyard ?  

With a serious expression “ Very ! My first four  years in the industry was as a viticulturist and that will always be part of me.  I am able to pull what I see and taste in the vineyard through to the winemaking, into the final product and the brand itself.  It’s what makes me tick and must be an advantage over winemakers who don’t have that background and feel”

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

With a chuckle “No, not really. They are like your  kids, love them all, but boy are they different.” “No two wines or vintages can be approached the same way. It is up to you to make sense and adapt your approach to get your desired result or wine style.” After a little thought “There are so may so called “new” varieties to get acquainted  with. “

Q : Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker and/or region ?

“Most winemakers I have worked with have influenced me some way or another. Their approach / philosophy.  A number of winemakers have engraved something into me. Willie Burger, Henri Swiggers, Bertus Fourie, Richard Rowe, not prima donna guys but guys who have taken their time to talk, invest , share and mentor youngsters like myself. Also Neil Ellis and Charles Hopkins.”

Q : What would you consider to be your greatest achievement  as a winemaker ? 

Big smile “I think I am still to get there ! Sjoe, difficult. Maybe the entire 2014. Veritas most successful producer 4 years in a row and record breaking numbers of Gold, Double Golds in the history of the Competition . Old Mutual Trophy Show, Winemakers  Choice Diamond awards Best Producer.” With some thought  “The  EKOV Best Performer Shield” , this is extra special because you are nominated and voted for by your Peers in the industry.”

Q : And the future ? 

“To continue to be innovative with new varieties, clones and regions and align  varieties to terroir and be at the forefront of winemaking innovation and pursue continual wine style evolution. “

Q : To end ? 

Big smile “I believe Happiness is homemade and that is what home, my wife and two kids are, Happiness”. “Without that you can’t make great wine !


We are delighted to announce that Johann was Awarded the Jan Smuts Trophy for the best wine at the 2015 Young Wine Show. The Young Wine Show is the world’s oldest continuous wine competition and has the most valuable collection of floating trophies in the world. The Jan Smuts trophy is awarded to the BEST wine on the Show. It is one of the most prestigious awards a South African winemaker can get. Johan is the chief winemaker at the KWV and it was their wooded red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (Very traditional South African red blend) that was awarded the Jan Smuts trophy. They beat a little more than 2,100  contenders. Johan and his team also collected the Pietman Hugo trophy for the cellar with the highest marks for entries in five categories plus a trio of South African Champion Trophies. The overall champion was also awarded the best red blend on show. They also got the trophy for the best chardonnay and the SA Champion for Other Red Cultivars with a wooded Malbec.

Quick Message

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search