In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where did you originate ?

“I was born in Worcester on 13th February 1987.”

Q. Was it a Friday ?

“Funny enough it was but in my case it has been a lucky day !”

Q. Where did you study ?

“I went to Elsenburg where I  was successful in diplomas Viticulture and Oenology.”

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

“No, I think all winemakers can only strive to bring forward the heart of the wine by guiding it in the right direction.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“As much as possible , but that is not nearly enough.”

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

“I like our traditional Chenin blanc and of course port varieties where Touriga Nacional is my favourite.”

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

A very enthusiastic reply. “ Oh yes, the Douro in Portugal has definitely had an effect  on the way I think about vineyards , Wine and winemaking.  Also in South Africa we are blessed with amazingly talented winemakers from small to massive production cellars. I try to learn from everyone I meet.”

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

With a great big grin. “To get through the harvest without losing your sanity ! I have been blessed with a list of lifetime achievements, but the most special was when I released my first own label wine.”

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

Now all serious. “No secrets. A lot of hard work and long hours in the cellar during harvest to grind the work out. As soon as you think you are better  than to pull pipes around  you’ve lost the plot and never think you know everything about wine !!” It is the quest to learn  that makes your wine different.”

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

“Not really an issue. I work in an old cellar with old equipment. We have a very hands on approach to winemaking. Literally. We still empty some of our lagers  with buckets into an old basket press. However, I think modern knowledge is very important. To keep up with new research and to be able to think modern knowledge is very important. To keep up with and use new research and be able to understand what is happening and be able to change, adapt or implement where necessary is vitally important.”

Q. What about the future ?

“I’ve always had a passion for Portuguese  varieties. I think I have only scratched the surface about understanding how to plant and produce great wines  from these varieties. I do believe these varieties are excellently suited to our South African  climate and terroirs and I would, one day, like to see more wineries planting and producing great quality Portuguese varietal wines and  South Africans to understand and develop a love for these wines.”

Q. Haven’t you already  done this ?

“I suppose you refer to the Diners Club Young Winemaker of the year in 2014 when I was a finalist with a dry red wine made from Tinta Roriz . Traditionally a port variety but we have proved we can make outstanding natural dry reds from it.”

Q. That wasn’t all ?

“Yes, we have done well in a number of competitions with dry wines from port varieties. The Novare South African Terroir Awards has been kind to us when we won a National award for our 2013 Tinta Roriz.” He continues with a smile “There is a lot more to come. Just watch this space !”

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