In Interview with a winemaker

Q.  Where were you good folk born ?

Kathy “I was born in Pinelands but grew up in Rondebosch.” Gary “We lived in Wellington but I was born in  Paarl which was the closest Hospital. Both my Grandfather and Great-grandfather were mayors of Wellington”

Q. Where did you go to school ? 

Gary “I went to Bishops, Rondebosch and then UCT where I did a Double Major Geology.” Kathy “I went to Rustenberg High School for Girls and the to UCT Majoring in Economics and Industrial Psychology.” Gary continues “We both attended UC Davis, California  doing the Viticulture and Enology Masters Programme before work a year in the industry there after we finished at Davis.”

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

Gary “I am not sure , but everything at Jordan revolves around the soil and bedrock geology.  Gravity flow and a clean, hygienic, modern cellar complete the environment.” He contuse earnestly  “ We’re passionate about wines. We eat,  sleep and drink  wine and taste wines from all over the world as often as we can. Holidays are often to wine regions, unless we are in the bush and then we send some interesting wines on ahead. The Okavango Delta is where we like to unwind, ‘til we recently bought a lodge in the Timbavati.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

Gary : “Lots – fully involved in all aspects from soil preparation; clonal and rootstock decisions; which slope and row direction to plant and everything else. I’ve been working the soils at Jordan Estate for over 33 years now.” Kathy adds “With Gary so involved I am less involved on a daily basis  in the vineyards, but I run through them with the dogs every evening after leaving the winery just to check them out !” We have both lived here for over 30 years so we know every inch of Jordan Wine Estate intimately.”

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

Almost in unison “Whites, Chardonnay and Chenin. Reds, Cabernet sauvignon and Syrah.”

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

Collectively  : “ The USA because of our time studying and working  in there, mostly from a technology and international outlook point of view but not wine-style . That was France our love for Burgundy foe white. We also love red Burgundy but don’t have any Pinot Noir plated at Jordan.” With a hint of fun “In our next life we will come back with  Jordan  Estate transported to Burgundy.” Then continuing a pace “We have recently bought the neighbouring property and will be planting some interesting varieties other than more Cab and Chardonnay. Assyrtiko is a Greek white variety a little like Riesling which will be taking Kathy back to her Greek roots !  Assyrtiko is very aromatic and can handle strong wind  and conditions , perfect for the highest part of the adjoining property we recently purchased and overlooks False Bay.”

Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as winemakers ?

Collectively “ Having successfully grown our business from 6,000  cases to equivalent of over 65,000 12 bottle cases and have enjoyed evey minute of it. Our reward  is the enjoyment that we get from customers who are loyal to our brand and love our wines as much as we do ! This year we will receice the IWSC International Chardonnay Trophy for the 3rd time, on top of having been awarded the Pichon Trophy for the best Blended Red wine and the South Africa Wine Producer of the Year.” As an afterthought  “So we must be doing something right !”

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

With a hint of secrecy “ Ah, that would be telling…, there are no secrets, but no one will be able to replicate what we have , on another site. The difference lies in the vineyards. The clonal selection, the microclimate soils, slopes and so on. The care we take in the cellar and the pleasure we get  from the great industry that we work in and that inspired us to make the world-class wines we make. Our team is amazing, probably the strongest we have ever had and many have been with us for years.”

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

Again as a collective “Important enough to ensure that grapes, juice and wine is treated with respect. We like to say that our cellar uses technology in the hands of Mother Nature and we are not slaves to changing equipment the moment there is something new on the market.”

Q. What about the future ?

Again as a collective response “We have been involved with this property since Gary’s parent Ted and the late Sheelagh Jordan first purchased the run-down 74 ha place in 1982. Since then it has grown into 164 ha  as we have bought adjoining parcels  with a cellar, two restaurants (and a third in London on the Thames) and a boutique hotel with accommodation for 30 people. We have developed a destination estate where  visitors can enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of Stellenbosch and the surrounding mountains, panoramic views and peace of the countryside and not having the experience spoiled by it all being too commercial.” “In the future we plan to add a few more interesting varieties to our current selection. We’ve mentioned Assyrtiko but also Viognier, Grenache and Cinsault all to be planted on the newly purchased 20 ha at the top of the Estate overlooking False Bay.” Then in ending with sincerity  “We will continue to produce quality wines and give the customer excellent friendly and professional service and all in a unique and enjoyable experience on the estate.”

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