Q : When and where were you born ?
“I was born in Wynberg in 1972.”
Q : Where did you study ?
With the mischievous grin that most of his contributions were given “I studied at University of Stellenbosch for a few years before I was asked to leave as a result of my poor academic record ! After much persuasion and bribery I was accepted at Elsenberg Agricultural College. It was here that I found my calling. I studied oenology and viticulture under the great Eugene van Zyl.”
Q : Where did you make wine before Badenhorst Family Wines ?
“I had nine vintages at Rustenberg where I made some serious wines .” “After Elsenburg I worked a few harvests at Chateau Agelus, and in the north of Rhone in France and with Wither Hills in New Zealand. In South Africa I did stints at Simonsig, Steenberg and Groote Post.”
Q : Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be different to others ?
“No, we simply work with what we have.’ Then with a broad grin continues “ Lack of cash flow and love of vinyl has determined many of our approaches in the cellar !”
Q : How involved do you get in the vineyard ?
With a determined seriousness “I spend a lot of time in the vineyards’. He continued, “I grew up in Constantia and as a kid spent a lot of time stealing grapes which gave me time to perfect my picking techniques !”
Q : Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?
“All the varieties that we work with are extremely different and interesting in their own right. The old vineyards of Chenin are simply sublime. Our Grenache and Cinsault, are some of the oldest vineyards in South Africa, have an infectious energy to them and this somehow translates into wine too !”
Q : Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or by a wine region ?
With some deep thought “A person like Eben Sadie is a complete enigma. We are good friends and I enjoy his wisdom and beautiful wines. Serge Hochar from Chateau Musar was also someone with whom you talk about life. I love the wines of Burgundy and the Jura and the German wines from that long winding river “ (The Rhine !) He continues “It all started with Jean Daneel, then the winemaker at Buitenverwachting , who let me make my first wine when I was thirteen !!”
Q : What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?
“A gold medal for Cinsaut at the one and only show in South Africa, the Jongwynskou !”
Q : How important is modern winemaking equipment in your wine making ?
“Not too important at all !” (Adi actually boasts about the lack of equipment.!)
Q : Thoughts on the future ?
“We will continue to make wines of authenticity and honesty. We will plant new vineyards to become old for future generations. We will look after and tirelessly care for the older vineyards.” Then with that tongue full in his cheek “ We will braai every fortnight at 5 am in the morning !!”
Notes : In 2008 Adi Badenhorst and his cousin Hein bought a 60 hectare, neglected old farm in the Swartland. The cousins have restored the neglected cellar which was last used in the 1930’s ! A A Badenhorst practice biological farming and make wines in very traditional ways.