“I was born in Caledon (Overberg) in June 1977. A family of five siblings and 5th generation wheat and sheep farmers.”
Q. Where did you study ?
“I did a Bsc in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch and graduated in 1999. I also did my Cape Wine Master and managed to get that in 2009.”
Q. Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be different to others ?
“Winemaking is not a recipe. We might get fantastic guidelines from our lectors and mentors but after that it is a combination of knowledge, gut feel, personality and phone a friend !” After some thought “There are times when it is sensible to contact a fellow winemaker.”
Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?
“At Asara we have a fabulous viticulture team, Alan Cockcroft and William (alias Tokkie) Bussell and we have a common love for coffee and wine, so we make time to discuss ideas and strategies, often in the vineyard under discussion. I try to get into the vineyards as often as I can during the growing season and obviously during the harvest. I think every winemaker has the ideal to be even more in the vineyard, but after every day winemaking, cellar hygiene, sawis*, ipw*, wieta*, workshops, bottling and tastings it is challenging !”
Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?
“ I love to work with Chenin. The range of flavours and styles are just legion. Of course Pinotage. It is just out of the box and flamboyant. I guess my patriotic side shows here ! I also like merlot. Contrary to many views , I believe there are some fabulous merlots in the Cape. I strive for a style of merlot that is plush, elegant and poised.”
Q. Have you been influenced by any particular or by a wine region ?
“I did a harvest in Tuscany and I was really inspired by the integration of the lifestyle, love for wine and food and the overall quality of life. During my harvest in Sonoma at Verite, I was inspired by Pierre Seillan’s absolute focus on quality and purity of the wine. In South Africa , every individual colleague taught me something different – apart from the day to day winemaking actions. Also decision making during all steps from making to bottling and marketing, to ethics in the industry, to appreciation and respect for all wines.”
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?
“As every phase of my career has passed, it was accompanied by, what some might consider small achievements but for me have been major events. For example : completing my BSc (Agric) was great and my Cape Wine Masters was a highlight and then being gifted with a four yesr old that I am sure will love wine !” Then continues “Awards come and go but they but they are not the sole definition of success. I get greater value from the appreciation of my wines by consumers and fellow wine lovers. In the end our wines can only be as good as the building blocks we are presented with but a little bit of ourselves goes into each bottle.”
Q. What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?
“A difficult question, but real secret to making your wine unique is to : 1 LOVE WHAT YOU DO ! Love coming to work , it’s a privilege of having your job as your hobby. 2 Never stop reading/learning /asking . 3 A second opinion is very valuable but also trust your gut-feel.”
Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?
“The quality of your wine firstly starts with the quality of your building blocks e.g. the grapes. However equipment does add quality . Just to mention a few factors like the cooling of your grapes, sorting, soft destemming, soft pressing, temperature control during fermentation. All these add to the final quality and finesse.”
Q. What of the future ?
“Born as one of five siblings in a 5th generation farming family (Wheat and sheep) in the Overberg studying agriculture was just a natural extension of what I am and where my heart lies. The decision to go oenology is another story. I did a few harvests abroad in Tuscany, Sonoma and Bergerac. The rest is history. After South African jobs at Fort Simon, Sentinel and Lyngrove, I started at Asara . Asara has fantastic terroir and an impressive history. Our aim is to build on the foundation and continue to make wines that mirror our unique terroir and style.”
* Sawis = SA Wine Industry Information and Systems
Ipw = Integrated Wine Production
Wieta = The Agricultural Ethical Trade Initiative Of SA