In Interview with a winemaker

Nic van Aarde has such a youthful, boyish, smiley face that it is hard to believe he has all the experience he has.  Considered by many to be an absolute wizard with Sauvignon Blanc and certainly no slouch with a whole stack of other varieties as his wines at Warwick have shown.

Q : Where were you born?

With the ever present smile the reply “I was born in Paarl  at very early age !” and continues “So was in  the Winelands so wine was always a part of me and on top of that my Mom worked  at Nederburg which simply strengthened my life with wine.”

Q : How come you have two degrees ?

“Well…..I had wanted to study medicine but was not accepted so I decided to do a B. Com as this was a good foundation while I figured out what career choice to follow. I found the marketing side very interesting and majored in Marketing. As a student at Stellenbosch I became involved in the student wine club and ended up doing wine tours instead of attending business class ! I aso worked in winery tasting rooms during my holidays and this is where my love for wine really developed. On completing my B. Com I enrolled for a B.SC in Oenology and Viticulture. I have never looked back !”

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

“Yes, I think I always have the market  in my mind when I make my wine. I try to balance my Science brain with my Creative side.”  He adds “My B.Com helps me on a daily basis to make strategic business decisions. It is easy to make wine but a real challenge to sell it.”

Q : How involved do you get with  the vineyard?

“I  work closely with our viticulturist to align my winemaking goals with his farming practice.”

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

In a more serious mode “Sauvignon Blanc could be my fatal attraction ! There is a lot one can do with the varietal with  my science background.  However Cabernet Franc, the female version of Cabernet Sauvignon. In typical female manner it’s  beautiful perfume and spice I find very alluring !”

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

“My love for cabernet franc started at Chateau Angelus in St Emillion where I worked a vintage in 2004” Then continues “I spent two years at Nashik in India where I learnt how to fix any problem in winemaking !! I was there as a Consultant and  I had a  stack of problems present themselves. From water contamination to spray residues and exploding sparkling wine bottles !

Q : How on earth did you get to India?

“Nick Davis of Franschhoek Mountain Vineyards heard from a friend who imported furniture from India that there was a winery looking for a consultant.” Ten with that flashing smile “I jumped at the opportunity as I love travelling  and looked forward to the challenges and the spicy food.”

Q : How did you get to the position of applying for a Consultancy job?

“Well I have had a lot of varied experience. When I finished varsity I worked as an intern attempting to work in three different harvests a year to gain as much experience I could in the shortest time !  I did harvests in Margaret River, Marlborough, St   Emillion and Sonoma.”

Q : What do you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker?

Serious  “Getting the privilege to work with the dynamic team at Warwick.”

Q : Have you any secrets that makes  your wines different to others?

“No secrets but I have enough experience to trust my gut and go with it.”

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

“ I make use of not only equipment but I also love experiment  with various fining agents and the like which has helped me bring out  the best in Sauvignon Blanc.  I also have a new crusher/ destemmer  that works so gently on the grapes and prevents any unwanted MOG ending up in the tanks.”

Q : What thoughts for the future?

Again in serious mode “I have been in the South African Wine Industry for 13 years and I see so much potential. We need to stand together and not be shy of asking each other for help”

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