In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where do you originate from ? 

“I was born in the Strand in 1981.”

Q. Where did you study ? 

“I studied initially at University of Stellenbosch from 2000 to 2003 where I obtained a Bsc. Agric.  Then I went to France and 2009 to 2011 studied a Masters Vintage program.

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

“Fundamentally, not really.  I try to keep things simple. I believe in doing the basics well and understanding  the technical details of decision and then letting the vineyard do the talking.”

Q. You mention the vineyard. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“As much as possible. Working with our viticulturist to a common goal is critical. A right decision in the vineyard is worth ten in the cellar.”

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

“I have always loved cabernet sauvignon, but recently I am more drawn to  the lighter bodied  and styled  varieties such as Pinot Noir , Grenache and Cinsault.”

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

“I was impressed by the generosity and open minded approach of the winemakers  of Sancerre.  The impressive  and almost extreme  wines of Priorat and the elegance and refinement of Burgundy.”

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

“I’m still working on it !”

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

“Unfortunately the word secret doesn’t exist in this business. You have got to know your vineyards, pay attention to detail and work hard at it all the time !”

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

“With the very  special small batches  we are  very handson”  and it is not that critical. However, with the bigger volume blends it helps with managing of quality, consistency and efficiency.”

Q. I know you are  fit fellow. What do you do for fitness ?

“You have got to be fit to work in a winery and most of those I have worked in were big so you covered a lot of ground not to mention climbing up steel steps to get to tank tops and so on. I also do trail running and mountain biking and blessed that we have such great mountains at hand to do both. I love scuba diving and the reefs in Australia was great for that.”

Q.  You have packed a lot of quality experience into a short space of time. Please give a brief run-down of what you have done ?

“Well you know I studied first at Stellenbosch. Once qualified I couldn’t wait to travel where I worked for Hardy’s in McLaren Vale in South Australia , also with them in Margaret River  in Western Australia. I then spent a harvest in a small Southern Rhone cellar in France and another with Jordan Vineyard and Winery in California. I started at Nederburg in 2005  and was there until 2009 when I was accepted to do a Masters, jointly hosted in France, Italy and Spain. I returned to Nederburg in 2011 and joined the Bergkelder team  in 2013.

While in Europe doing the degree , which consisted of the study  of viticulture, wine, terroir and marketing  in the Groupe Ecole Superieurs d’Agriculture  (Groupe ESA).  I was appointed Chief Winemaker at the KWV in September 2016. I am looking forward to working with a young dynamic team with access to some of the best vineyards in the country.  I also look forward to continuing with the KWV’s pioneering legacy in creating wonderful wines that delight our consumers.”

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