In Interview with a winemaker

Q When and where  were you born ? 

“I was born at Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape on 1st March 1875.”

Q Where did you study ?

“ I have no formal education in winemaking but started in the industry as a cellar hand with Charles Hopkins at the Graham Beck cellar in Franschhoek. While there I did Skop 1,2 and 3 and achieved “Circle of Excellence”. “In 2004 I moved to Meerendal but in 2005 Charles Hopkins invited him to join the new cellar at De Grendel.”

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

After some careful thought. “I think I am pretty much set in the way I have been taught so I guess what I make is in the cellar style so it is different to others. However, I am always prepared to learn  and put into practice what might improve my winemaking.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“I suppose not as much as I should but then we have expert viticultural people. However I worked an entire year, 2000 in the vineyard at Bellingham and got to appreciate just how important it is to understand the vineyard.”

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

“That is difficult to answer as every variety presents it’s own challenges  and rewards.  I think that Merlot and Sauvignon blanc would be my favourites.”

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

“Obviously Charles Hopkins has been a huge influence in my understanding of wine. He also took me on a visit to Burgundy which was my first overseas winemaking experience. This will always stand as a major influence in my development.”

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

“I havn’t got there yet. To me everything is still an on going learning experience.”

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

“No, not really but I am a great believer in terroir  and I ensure I am guided by that total concept.

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

“The equipment is very important and plays a major part in the efficiency but it is the grape that is the most important thing.”

Q. What would your dream be for the future ?

“Wow, my greatest dream would be to be winemaker in my own cellar !”

Q. Any other thoughts ? 

“I find it strange that my Dad worked most of his life with Douglas Green in their security and then I became a winemaker working my way up from a cellar hand.  It goes to show that if you can motivate yourself and develop nothing can stop your progress.”

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