In Interview with a winemaker

William Wilkinson says he is a citizen of Hermanus ! He moved into the area when his dad took up the position as Vineyard Manager at Hamilton Russell Vineyards. My granddad was also in the business so it was a natural development that I went that route.

Q : How did you become the winemaker at Wildekrans ?

“ I did stints at Backsberg and Hamilton Russell and was just very lucky to land the job !”

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

“I don’t really suppose so.  The emphasis in the cellar, as in the vineyards, is on meticulous attention to detail with the most gentle of winemaking techniques. We strive to deliver elegant, well balanced, fruit driven wines.”

Q  : How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“Whether in the cellar or vineyards the winemaking and viticultural team  follow low intervention approach and we share everything. We are in an eco-friendly area and we use snail gobbling ducks that rid our vineyards of those tiresome and destructive pests. So, yes I do get involved with all the farming but Braam Cericke is an excellent farmer.”

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

“I am a huge supporter of Pinotage and Pinotage driven blends. Our  pinot noir vineyards are coming into production and this might have an influence towards my favourite !” On reflection “Pinotage is proudly South African and so am I….well sometimes” and naughty laugh follows. As an after thought “I love barrel fermented  Chenin.”

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

With great enthusiasm “Wow, I am tremendously influenced by the Hermanus region. Its one of the world’s  newest wine producing areas.” He continues seemingly without taking a breath”…and now producing some of the World’s best wines. The cool from the Atlantic and with Overberg warmth it has ideal summer , perfect for phenolic ripening of grapes.”

Q  : And people ?

“ When I first started at Wildekrans the previous owner Dr Bruce Elkin gave me a great start and I worked very closely with him . Others who I learned from were Mark Carmichael-Green, Niels Verberg, Eleonor Visser, Nicolas Follet and Francois Naude senior.”

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

With some serious thought “I don’t think I have got there yet but all the accolades I have had for my pinotage make me very proud. Then the nomination in 2013 as a finalist in the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year with my 2011 Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel  Select Reserve.” He continues with a twinkle in his eye “ The way it is developing it would probably win today !” Then , “Being awarded the “Novare” trophy for the top wine estate in 2012”.

Q  :  Do you have any secrets or methods you have developed ?

“Not really, as I mentioned it is tremendous  attention to detail and working as  close as we can in concert with nature.”

Q  :  What about the future ?

Very serious “ Our goal is to become a cellar of international distinction and a world class wine destination and we are well on track to achieve this !” He ponders awhile and continues seriously “This must all happen with my wife Belinda and son, Turner  and myself being a very happy family “

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