In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where do you originate ?

“I was born in the deep South of Johannesburg without a vine in sight !”

Q. How did you get from there to having a plumb winemaking job at Klein Constantia ?

“It was my Grandfather. He taught me all things great about farming and then late one afternoon he introduced me to a bottle of Rustenberg John X Merriman. This sparked my fascination for wine. To be involved in farming and have your end product to be wine. How better could the world be ?”

Q. So how did you get from there to being a winemaker ?

“I studied at University of Stellenbosch and graduated with BSc Agric in Winemaking  and viticulture.”

Q. And then ? 

“Well then I set out on my travels and working in wine to gain experience in a whole lot of winemaking areas.” The adds as a bit of an understatement “I have been fortunate  to gain experience in some great wineries.”

Q. Such as ?

“I guess I could start with Meerlust. Then there was Elderton in the Barossa Valley. Chateau Belefort Belclair in Saint Emilion. I was an intern at Chteau Trianon, also St Emilion and at Dancing with Hares in Napa.” Again as an after thought   “ I also spent some time in Pomerol, Sancerre and Tokjai.”

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

With some serious thought.  “That’s a tough question because everyone thinks they are special in terms of what they do. I feel that I have been privileged enough to have the opportunity to learn from lots of successful winemakers  across the world and meld all of their ideas into what we do today at Klein Constantia.” After some thought “My predecessor at Klein Constantia have laid magnificent foundations to build on.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ? 

“I would love to be more involved  but I feel I have my hands full in the cellar but we have a great vineyard team.”

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

Without hesitation “Sauvignon blanc. However here at Klein Constantia  we have to deal with many different varieties.  My aim is to make one of the best Sauvignons Blanc in South Africa and to make one of  the best sweet wine in the world.”

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

“Pascal Jolivet from Sancerre has been one of my biggest inspirations. I am privileged enough to go there every year. Then, Adam Mason and Chris Williams have been great mentors.”

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

“Having the privilege to make Vin de Constance as well as to be part of it’s heritage.”

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

Quite humbly “Less is more and don’t overcomplicate things.”

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

“Not at all. I believe in sticking to the basics.” He continues  “In producing our most famous wine, Vin de Constance, We employ the most ancient of methods with  open top wooden vats and hand punch downs.”

Q. What about the future ?

“My aim is to make a truly Klein Constantia style wine and the only way to do this is by respecting the terroir and thinking out of the box.”

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