In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where do you originate from ?

“ I was born in Constantia in 1980.”

Q. Where did you go to school and where did you study winemaking ?

“Senior School at Paul Roos in Stellenbosch the University of Stellenbosch where I did a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology. Then, eventually, MSc in Viticulture.”

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

“In some ways yes. I think  I’m a lot more open minded to the use of the technology that is available.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“Not as much as I’d  like to , as the cellar takes as lot of my time. Between 2007 and 201 I was more involved but we had two winemakers  back then !”

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

“That’s easy. Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.”

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

“My Dad for starters and Andre van Rensburg.  I’d like to think that my way of thinking with regards to making of the different varietal wines is influenced by some of the European regions where they originate from.”

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

“Every time a wine consumer congratulates me on a job well done. When your wine is a benchmark for other winemakers.”

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

“I do not believe in keeping secrets from my peers. I’d like to share any knowledge that I have acquired that might help them in the industry.”

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

“Unfortunately we do not have very modern equipment. But I think one has to keep an open mind with regards to technology whether it is removing alcohol, adjusting pH or evn additives like tannins for certain roles.”

 Q. How about the future ?

“We at Neil Ellis are still very much focused on our different varietals in different regions. We are just fine tuning what will work best for us in some of the regions.”

Q. What about the Webb Ellis wine ?

“As you know the trophy for the rugby world cup is the “Webb Ellis” trophy. Well my Mom, Stephanie, was a miss Webb. So we launched the “Webb Ellis” to coincide with the last World Cup. It was totally sanctioned by all the correct authorities.  A blend of 65 % Cabernet Sauvignon from Jonkershoek and 35 % Syrah from Groenekloof in Darling and then well oak aged. Only 600 bottles were made available. A really great wine making its mark for South African wines on the world stage.”

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