In July 2001 Distell appointed Australian winemaker, Linley Schultz, as their chief winemaker as part of their preparation to assault the world market. Linley arrived in South Africa with his wife and children and has now become one of our leading winemakers with a very keen mind on marketing and the international market. In December 2009 he moved to Alvi’s Drift not only with the charge of the production of the wines for Alvi’s Drift but also to determine the winemaking style and direction liaising with the sales teams and development of the brand and creative development of new products.
Q : How did you get into wine ?
“Well first of all after leaving school I did not have the qualifications to study winemaking ant university so I had to attend night school to get my Matric. Then I went on to Roseworthy Agricultural College which became part of University of Adelaide. Here I obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science and Oenology.
Q : Do you consider your winemaking approach is different to others ?
With a fairly serious frown “No, I see things in ultimate quality like most winemakers. Making the best wine you can is an easy goal. However, where I seem to differ from many is that I find the final quality at a price point to be of considerable interest.” He continues after some more thought “No point making it if no one will buy it ! “
Q : How involved do you get with the vineyard ?
“I also don’t hold great importance in soil. You need good soil, but the idea that you can taste the soil in the wine simply doesn’t work for me. Climate is more important than soil.” “Having said that I would like to be more involved with the vineyard but we have very good folk doing that. “
Q : Do you have any variety you prefer to work with ?
With relish “Riesling is an old favourite. Then I guess Chardonnay and Shiraz”
Q : Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?
Immediate and definite reply “Barossa and Eden Valleys.” “ Phew, people ? Pat Tocaciu, John Bird, Steve Lienert, Neville Falkenberg, John Duval, Moss Kaesler, Philip John, Ian McKenzie, John Vickery. All different winemakers who made great wines and all passed on information to me in a very generous manner.”
Q : What do you consider your greatest winemaking achievement ?
With obvious pride “ Making the winner of the Adelaide Trophy with the first vintage of Yatarna chardonnay. The first time a white wine had won the award.”
Q : How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?
With genuine expression “Modern equipment makes life easier, improves juice yield, speed things up which helps to balance the books and so on.” Then with genuine belief “You don’t need fancy equipment to make great wine.”
Q : Do you have an ideas about the future of South African wine ?
“The future of South African is still not clear to me. I see chardonnay and pinotage playing important roles. It is vital we build a great South African brand that is world acclaimed but produced in sufficient volume to allow wide distribution and therefore the ability to convert significant numbers of wine lovers to South African Wine.” He adds with some reservation “That is still some way off.”