“1974 in Somerset West”.
Q. Where did you study ?
“I did a BSc in Winemaking and Viticulture at the Stellenbosch University.”
Q. Your entry into wine was a bit different to others ?
“Yes, winemaking wasn’t something I dreamt about when I was younger.I happened to stumble onto it by chance. I studied Biophysics at US until it became boring. Winemaking sounded interesting. I had always loved chemistry and the idea of being outdoors in the vineyards would enable me to fulfil two passions.”
Q. Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be different to others ?
“I think every winemaker has a different approach and it changes through the years as you gain more experience and become more at ease with your own style.”
Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?
“Not as much as I would like. I run a 1100 ton winery without an assistant so that makes more than a full time job !!”
Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?
“Yes. I have always loved to work with Cabernet sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc, but Chenin blanc is a real passion for me.”
Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?
“No one in particular but many conversations with many different winemakers tend to stick somewhere…”
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?
“There have been many wonderful awards throughout the years, but I think through all my years at Uitkyk I proved that this place can produce unique and powerful wines throughout the spectrum. You need to get to know where to plant what.”
Q What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?
“I try not to fiddle too much ! There are so many different products and techniques on the market to enhance and “change” your wines, it is unbelieveable !! I try to respect the fruit and structure that come from our grapes themselves. At time of blending I have learnt not to make the perfect wine for now, but to see the wine in 4-5 years down the road, because that is the beauty of Uitkyk reds, their longevity.”
Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?
“It is always nice to have modern equipment, but budget constraints don’t always allow for that. I have learned to work with what I have. It is always interesting to hear conversations about techniques changing to what we used to do in earlier years…”
Q. You joined Uitkyk in 2000. What happened before that ?
“In my final tear at Stellenbosch I received the award for the best student in oenology and viticulture. This encouraged me to travel and gain international experience. I visited New Zealand, Australia , Tasmania and the USA. I returned to South Africa 1997 and was first appointed as an assistant at Neethlingshof. My “boss’ was the legendary Schalk van Westhuizen. I then worked on two sister cellars before being given the keys to Uitkyk.”
Q. …and once at Uitkyk ?
“Soon after I settled in at Uitkyk I married Ian Lourens and we have two children. We enjoy hiking and the outdoors and we seldom venture into the city. Our love for nature is very apparent at Uitkyk where various sustainability initiatives and Uitkyk was recently awarded championship status with the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI)”
“Winemaking is certainly not a job but a lifestyle. One for which I am very grateful.”