“I was born on 24th September 1982 in the Somerset Hospital. However I come from Darling and from a long line of well-known farmers.”
Q. Where did you study and what qualifications do you have ?
“I studied at Elsenberg doing their diplomas in Cellar Technology and Viticulture.” Then added “That is a great institution and being an Agricultural College you get to see all manner of agriculture including animal husbandry and so , I believe, their graduates are better all-round farmers/winemakers.”
Q. What was your first job when you left Elsenberg ?
“Almost across the road with the Melcks at Muratie. That was a great experience to start your career.”
Q. Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be different to others ?
“All winemakers will have similar interests and a basic winemaking foundation, but I am a technical and focussed individual always looking at the little things. I love experimenting and tasting. I also don’t force any wine into something that it’s not.” Then adds with a grin “If that makes any sense to anyone ! It needs to express itself and I believe in natural freshness and balance.”
Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?
“At Boschendal we have a designated viticulturist, but I venture into the vineyards as often as I can and never harvest anything without thorough prior tasting. “
Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?
“Shiraz has always been the top spot, but I am developing a love for Bordeaux varieties. They are definitely more challenging. “ Then adds “I really love a challenge. “ The carries on “ I found that I enjoyed working with cabernet sauvignon when I was in Sonoma, California. In Spain Tempranillo was good while in Italy Barbera and Nebbiola filled the bill.”
Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?
“For us at Boschendal the vineyards and regions play a huge role ! The different styles that the regions deliver has helped build and distinguish our different brands, and I am hugely privileged to work with so many different varieties and origins. It is humbling, and also makes me proud to see the variety of styles that our South African terroir can produce. My favourites seem to come from altitude sites, or cooler coastal vineyards, but I have proved myself wrong on many occasions !” He adds with a grin.
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?
He answers with seriousness. “I didn’t become a winemaker foe awards or recognition. For me it is, however, highly rewarding to see people just enjoying the wine. To be a skipper of the Boschendal Red wine ship is probably my biggest achievement, and through my whole career I have been working toward this kind of responsibility.”
Q. What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?
“The realisation that one cannot fiddle too much, but gently guide with winemaking intervention. That means harvesting at the correct time, ripe tannins, natural freshness. And no dominating new oak. Also trying new things and seeing what works best for certain areas and varietals.”
Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in you winemaking ?
“We have a new crusher de-stemmer that makes a huge difference in our Bordeaux varietals by removing almost all the stalks and green berries. Much more so than conventional machines. I believe in using what works best and if there is new equipment that can have a quality impact we will most certainly look into it. Saying that we bought a hand cranked basket press this year and it was one of the best buys ever ! So new is not necessarily best.”
Q. What brought you to be the Red winemaker at Boschendal ?
“Well I grew up on a Duckitt farm in Darling so I am a farmer at heart. I matriculated at SACS and then went to Elsenberg followed by three vintages overseas. The a few locally before spending ten years at Franschhoek Vineyards. I joined Boschendal in May 2015 as their Red Winemaker.” Then continues in serious vein “As you know Boschendal has been producing great wines for years and have made great strides in the market place so one does not want to change what works or re-invent the wheel, but we constantly look for ways to improve and tweak in pursuit of perfection. We also have some exciting new wines that will be released soon.” Then adds with a mischievous grin “I have been sworn to secrecy so cannot tell you more!”