“I was born in Cape Town in 1981”
Q. Where did you study ?
“I was a student at University of Stellenbosch and graduated in 2004.”
Q. If you are a product of University of Stellenbosch which was pretty prescriptive at that time, how did you get your ideas on grape growing and winemaking ?
“Most of our ideas came from our connections in Europe. It was here we developed making low intervention wine.”
Q. Your approach to winemaking is very different to others ?
“Yes. It’s very different to the vast majority of winemakers in South Africa. The only addition we ever use is sulphur. We strongly dislike new oak. As a well known South African Winemaker says “ Why do you want your South African wine to taste like a French tree ?” He continues “”I think that late picking in South Africa is a missed opportunity pretty much every time.” After some thought “Why work so hard on a beautiful old block of wines, only to drown it’s character in new oak ?”
Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?
“VERY. I think separation between vineyard and winery is a bad idea. We are very involved with the farming. We believe in farming as close to nature as we can, and encouraging naturally healthy soil. This is paramount in making fine wine. Dead soil gives dead wine.”
Q. Do you have varieties you prefer to work with ?
Immediate response “Traditional Cape varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Cinsault.”
Q. Why white wine ?
“We really love white wine but also love red but our real fascination is with white wine. We love its flavours and purity. We think the Cape’s true strength is in its white wines. But we also make some great red wines.” He follows “Historically the Cape was white wine. Red has become fashionable fairly recently.”
Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?
“I think the Swartland guys have been a big influence. Plus Daniel Vollenweider in the Mosel in Germany. Also fascinated with Lanquedoc, Roussillon and Provence. Also Tegan Passalacqua in California. “
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?
With a broad grin “I’m still working on that ! Anyway, I think that most winemakers think too much of themselves and of what we do. It isn’t really rocket science.”
Q. What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?
“Probably allowing the must to develop without interference prior to alcoholic fermentation, so zero sulphur nor gas cover at pressing or settling. It’s risky, but the payoff is worth it.”
Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?
“It doesn’t feature, unless you consider a bladder press from the 80’s as modern !”
Q. What of the future ?
“Our winemaking business has revolved around heritage grapes and older vineyards from the outset. This will continue, but we will bring in a strong focus on planting new vineyards in new places, hopefully establishing vineyards that our grandkids will be proud of.”
Q. There was a time when your wife Suzaan was very involved in the business ?
“In the beginning she was very involved but since the kids have arrived she’s a full time Mom. She still does a bit of admin here and there. She’ll jump back in when the kids are grown.”