In Interview with a winemaker

Q. When and where were you born ?  

“I was born in Vredendal on 11th January 1958.”

Q. Where did you study and what qualifications do you have ? 

“I did a B-agric Cellar Technology, Oenology and Viticulture at Elsenberg and then went on to complete a postgraduate diploma in business management at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. Also attended the Michael Fricjhon Wine Judging Academy.”

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

“I believe  in simplicity. Every vintage differs from the previous, thus working  with what nature gives you, no recipe and not getting too technical. Let the wine speak for itself.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ? 

“Muratie is a small, hands on, family farm, we do everything from grape to bottle ourselves. So I spend a lot of time  in the vineyards , and it is important, because  you can only make a wine as good as your grapes, so you need to put in  the effort to make sure the latter is excellent.”

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

“Yes. Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, “

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

“ I worked at a small but high quality estate, Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley where  their no-nonsense  approach to making wine without a recipe, according  to what the vintage and conditions yield, was very influential for me as a young winemaker.” “I also took in very different experience at Bleasdal Vineyards in Langhorne Creek  in Australia.” He continues “My local experience at Opstal in the Breedekloof, at Morgenhof in Stellenbosch and Siedelberg in Paarl all played their part.”

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

“Empowering  and hopefully inspiring my cellar staff.”

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

”No secrets. Necessarily, but I have learnt that less is more when it  comes to wood, you should let the natural characteristics of the wine shine.”

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

“Technology  shouldn’t  dictate  your winemaking decisions, but the best modern equipment certainly helps make your life easier and can improve quality.”

Q. How do you keep fit ?

“Getting around the farm and cellar and a young family keeps me pretty fit along with some jogging around the surrounding Simonsberg hills with my Border Collies .”

Q. In general ?

“I have been fortunate  to travel and work at some fine overseas cellars but I still have a lot international wine destinations on my travel bucket list  and a lot I want to learn. I also have a lot of other interests away from wine and I love golf and hunting. Very important is spending time with my wife, Leonie  and darling little daughter and family and friends.” After some thought “I really enjoy eating good food and drinking good wine and being in the company of my family and friends.”

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