In Interview with a winemaker

Q. When and where were you born ? 

“I was born in the very small and humble Eastern Cape town of King Williams Town in 1982. I eventually attended Dale College from Grade 1 to Grade 12. I left “King” in 2000 to pursue my dream to become a winemaker.”

Q. Where did you study and what qualifications did you achieve? 

“I completed my B.Sc Agriculture in Oenology and Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch in 2004 and set about starting my career.  In between completing some local vintages, I travelled to other wine producing areas such as Bordeaux in France and the Mosel in Germany to broaden my horizons. On returning to South Africa, I applied for the winemaking position at Moreson in 2007 and have never looked back!”  He continues  “In addition I completed a Post  Graduate in Wine Business Management, Cum  Laude at the University of Cape Town in 2011. “

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

“I have derived my winemaking from my friend and mentor, Gerald Ludwinski “Keep it simple and do the basics right.”  I personally believe that we are making the best wines we have ever made by sticking to these principles. We are constantly innovating, but also adhere to these basic rules.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyards ? 

“Luckily I pride myself on my Honesty. Most winemakers like to say that their beds are in the vineyard. This is not to say that I or any other winemaker does not spend any time in the vineyard, it is just that winemaking is an all-consuming position especially if you factor in marketing and travel. I also personally dislike winemakers who take credit away from the Viticulturists and from the farm managers who work on their respective estates. Moreson is a small estate relative to what is out there. Even if we insist on employing a Viticulturist whose sole purpose is to tend to the vines.  My role , as the  winemaker is to ensure  our stylistic approach  and direction is well communicated with this person and effectively ensure  a good working  relationship between  the two  operations. I spend as much time as I need in the vineyards  ensuring  we receive what we require  for the subsequent vintage. My role is strategic more than it is practical. I always insist that I personally visit each grower in Franschhoek myself together with the viticulturist. Manicuring a good, business relationship supersedes telling people what to do.”

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

“No doubt, Chardonnay and Pinotage. “

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

Burgundy is one of the most captivating wine regions in the world expressing their wines as single sites or single vineyards. Their history of wine production is fascinating dating back to the11th Century when the first Cistercian monks started to experiment with wine and in doing so finding the best vineyard sites suitable for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which would later be classified as village, premier cru and grand cru.  Their vignerons are true farmers who all possess a humility and honesty which is refreshing to experience. What I respect the most is how understated they and their wineries are. There are no ostentatious winery entrances, or large winery signs. Instead they focus purely on their vineyard sites and resulting wines.”

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

“Off the top of my head, being awarded Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year in 2009. That was very special and so was being a finalist in Diners Club Winemaker of the year in last year’s competition.” After some thought  “My greatest achievement , I believe,  has been working with in a team  for the past 11 years that has transformed the image and identity of Moreson wines”

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

“I believe what makes us different as a producer is my constant desire to challenge our wine growing and winemaking techniques. Our approach in the winery is certainly non-conventional. I dislike the conformity of wine production and wine preparation.  We are always testing ways  and means  to eradicate  the use of additives in the winery and replacing them with materials  that are more  natural and derived from our own cellar. For example, if I feel we can get away from not adding bentonite to wine without compromising the heat stability of the wine, we will do so.”

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

“Modern winemaking equipment such as automated sorting tables and optic sorting tables are an essential and expensive practice in wineries. Those wineries whose budget can afford such items and if used correctly, will add  value to their final product. Wineries whose brands are based on consistency year on year rely heavily on such machines in order to ensure and promote the health of fruit.  We make use of a pellenc automated sorting table to ensure incoming fruit is extremely healthy.”

Q.  The future ?

“South Africa is arguably producing some of the world’s best wines. No other wine producing country is gifted with a collection of talented winemakers willing to break the conformity of wine, take risks and continually strive to do better. I still we need to impress the world with just how good our wines are.

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