In Interview with a winemaker

Q. When and where were you born ?

“I was born in Calitzdorp in the Little Karoo on 14 September 1982.”

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

“I graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 2004 with BSc Agric Viticulture and Oenology.  Since then I obtained the Certificate from CFPPA de Beaune for theory/practical on Burgundy wines in 2009.  And the Cape Wine Academy Diploma in 2012. I did postgraduate  Diploma in Financial Planning at University of Stellenbosch Business School , Bellville, graduating in 2015. So with all that and my years of winemaking  I think I am fairly well qualified to do what I am doing !” Then adds, “ Making wine and running my own business.”

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

“Not really. I am very involved  during all of production process. I am well organised and very particular on cleanliness in the wine cellar. I stay away from any possible oxidation, and believe that less is more . If the wine was handled well and the process well controlled, no additions will be needed. I like to get everyone involved and believe that hard work is always well rewarded.”

Q. How involved to you get in the vineyard ?

“We have a very experienced Viticulturist , Marius Cloete, with who I communicate on a daily basis regarding any developments in the vineyard .”

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

“Yes, quite a few !  Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.”

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

“I look up to plenty of winemakers in South Africa . It is not an easy career to be a winemaker, and doing it with success takes an enormous amount of sacrifice.”

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

“I havn’t got there yet but one on my Bucket List would be the prestigious  General Smuts Trophy for the best wine at the annual National Young Wine Show. I admire and respect the long tradition of that trophy  and must also include the Veritas Wine Awards.”

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

“I guess every winemaker has a secret that works for him/her. I don’t think I am any different but those are my secrets !”

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

“Modern equipment makes life easier, but the basics  still apply.  Clean ripe fruit. Minimal handling, minimum oxidation, minimum additions, good sulphur management and total involvement throughout. Then tasting, tasting and more tasting.”

Q. What about you and the future ?

“Since finishing my BSc in 2004 I have had 13 years of quality experience in the world –wide industry. Seeing as that I am only 35 I have lots still to do. Winning several awards at top competitions  as previous head of winemaking at Anura Vineyards (10 years) and then head winemaker at Glen Carlou I have earned a vast amount “know how” in the making  top end wines  and with this keeping  in touch with the important understanding of local and foreign consumer needs.” Then after some thought, continues “I have a long background in primary production of wine coming from a family owned fruit and wine farm in Calitzdorp. Involvement in the vineyard  has been a crucial part of my success with excellent  results and experience  in sourcing of good wine grapes.”

Q. What do you think has made you so well organised ?

“I think going to Oakdale Agricultural High engraved the organisation and helped in forward thinking” After some more thought “I have been interested in winemaking  from a kid and I guess some competition from my sister who is also a successful winemaker.”

Q. To finish ?

“Apart from my academic  achievements I have good practical and communication skills combined with ability to work hard and thoroughly and perform under pressure. One of my top attributes is to be always well organised and have confidence in myself.”

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