In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where did you originate ?

“I was born in Mobray, Cape Town.”

Q. How did you get into winemaking ?

“I grew up in Somerset West and my Dad was a great wine enthusiast so it was fairly simple that I was influenced by him.”

Q. Where did you study ?

“I was a boarder at Wynberg Boy’s High. Then off to Stellenbosch where I graduated in 1995 with BSc in geology and geochemistry then I succumbed  to the inevitable and did viticulture and oenology graduating in 1998.”

NB Reference to ”inevitable” : Miles father was a not just an enthusiast but well known wine judge, wine writer and winemaker with his own winery making port at AXE Hill in Calitzdorp. Not to mention a great character and one of the original three Cape Wine Masters.

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

“Not really. Attention to detail is my mantra.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“ I am very involved in the planning, input into canopy management, crop levels and I make the crucial decision when to pick. I am not involved in the day-to-day spray programmes, irrigation and fertilisation.”

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

“ Hmmm, that is difficult to say. On reds it is probably Cabernet Sauvignon. With whites it  would be a toss up between Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.”

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

“Gyles Webb was my mentor.” “I also had various stints working overseas  which were valuable in my development. In 1999 I spent a vintage at the prestigious Knappstein winery in Clare, South Australia.  I worked the vintage of 2000  as a cellar hand  with Alain Parrelin Condrieu  France and then 2001 at Planeta  in Sicily.”

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

“No doubt, being nominated and accepted into the Cape Winemakers Guild.  Then this past year being  elected Chair for this current year.”

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

With that disarming and very boyish smile he cheerfully replies “I can’t share those with you otherwise I would have to kill you”

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

With serious attitude “Very important to make life easier but one always needs to look to the traditional techniques which work and have always been around for that precise reason.”

Q. Besides Tokara  you also have your own label ?

“Ja, that is our family business. The wines are under my name “Miles Mossop” and each one dedicated to one of our children. When we launched with 2004 vintage named after our first two children. Max a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Eventually Malbec was added to the blend. The Saskia a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and later  Clairette blanche. In 2009 we introduced  Kika a botrytis Noble Late Harvest from 100 % Chenin. “

Q. What about the future ?

In serious tone but very relaxed.  “ Well I have been with Tokara for 16 years  and had my own brand for 12 years. I have been married for 14 years to the most wonderful woman, Samantha,  and have three tremendous kids. So all seems pretty  good. “ He continues – “I am passionate about fishing and surfing so those will always play a part. “  Then after a little thought “I intend to keep making better wines and take Tokara to the very top. I also want to surf Hawaii one day !”

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