Bartho Eksteen is one of many of our top winemakers is a product of Elsenburg Agricultural College. His formative winemaking years were at Kleine Zalze, Rooiberg, Romans Rivier, Wildekrans and then, fully matured, Bartho Eksteen Wines in Hermanus and Hermanuspietersfontein Wynkelder. He is very casual and has a very easy going attitude. All of which hides a very astute mind.
Q : Do you consider your approach to winemaking is different to others ?
A thoughtful and considered reply “I believe in attention to detail and try to be innovative. I believe I am never too old to learn.”
Q : How involved are you in the vineyard ?
With a relaxed smile “I believe that wine is created in the vineyard. Therefore I have a very keen interest in the vineyard through the year.”
Q : Do you have any variety you prefer to work with ?
“Obviously Sauvignon blanc and Rhone varieties.” He continues with a broad grin “ My wife, Sune, loves bubbly so I now have an interest in varieties that are good for bubbles !”
Q : Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?
“I am influenced by cool climate and cool sea breezes.”
Q : What would you consider your greatest achievement in winemaking ?
With great pride “Winning the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year Award in 2010 with my 2009 Sauvignon Blanc.”
Q : How important is modern winemaking equipment ?
With very serious mode “It is an asset, but modern techniques where you manipulate and fiddle with the analysis of the juice are taboo. For example, to change pH, reverse osmosis, etc are winemaking sins and winemakers who employ those techniques will go to Winemakers Hell ! That is because they remove the terroir influence and art from winemaking and just leave it to the chemistry.” He adds as an after thought “Wine is supposed to be natural”.
Q : What does the future hold for you ?
With obvious enjoyment “I am very excited by the Wijnskool project. I have dedicated my remaining good winemaking years not only to producing excellent wines at the Winjskool and for the CWG Auction. In the process to give as many youngsters as possible the opportunity to learn the culture , art and craft of winemaking.
The course is offered to high school learners who have to make a career choice . There is also a year extra mural course “A Year with Wine” where they learn to make and use wine and there is a Wine Entrepreneur Support Programme in the second half of 2015 where we hope to incubate young wine professionals’ business sense and then mentor them for 3-5 years.”
Q : Where are you making your wine at the moment ?
“I am still using the Wijnskool cellar in Paarl at the Boland Agricultural High School. We are in the process of buying a 5 ha farm in Little Hemel-en-Aarde where we want to build the Wijnskool a restaurant , accommodation, lecturing facilities and all that is required. This will happen over the next two years.”
He ends with a great flourish and full grin “You will all be invited to our opening event in December 2015 in amongst the bricks and mortar !”
To read more winemaker interviews, please visit our winemaker interview section.