In Interview with a winemaker

Q When and where were you born ? 

“I was born in Nelspruit in 1984 which was shortly after the Grier family purchased the farm Villiera.” Then adds somewhat casually “My Dad  is the great Chef and extreme adventurer and inspirational speaker, David Grier.”

Q. Where did you study ? 

“I studied at the University of Stellenbosch where I graduated with a Bsc Food Science (Bio).

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

“Not really. I think my approach is very similar to most young winemakers way of thinking and execution, minimal intervention and let it all happen in the vineyard.”

Q. You say let it all happen in the vineyard. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“Well my uncle Simon is overall responsible for vineyards at Villiera but I try to get involved as much as possible as I believe the wine gets made in the vineyard.”

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

With a wry smile “Yes, pinot noir, the heart break grape !”

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

“When I returned to South Africa I had a short stint with Kevin Grant in Elgin then I moved to be Assistant to Gerhard Smith, the winemaker at La Vierge in Hemel-en-Aarde. He taught me a lot and gave me the freedom to express myself. I worked with him for three vintages before moving to Villiera and that is a long time in my short career. ”  Then adds “Of course my vintages in the USA, Australia, Tasmania and Domaine Grier in France all played their part.”

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

With the ever present smile. “I’m still working on it , but at this stage it has to be my Stand Alone Pinot Noir.”

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

Again with that engaging smile “I’ve got to keep that a secret otherwise it will no longer be a secret !”

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

“At Villiera we operate on a big scale so it plays an important role in our cellar.”

Q. You went to the University of Stellenbosch but what else have you done that is not part of winemaking ? 

“My uncle and aunt (Jeff and Cathy Grier) are both Cape Wine Masters so they got me involved in the Cape Wine Academy and then I have worked as a Chef, barman, gardener and lifeguard in South Africa, Mozambique and the USA.”

Q. What of the future ?

“The future looks bright , challenging and exciting all at the same time. I am looking forward to working with the team at Villiera and can’t wait  to see the results from our labours in the future and of course working with my Uncle Jeff a legend in our winemaking world.”

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