Why did you become a winemaker?
I grew up on a wine farm, and was exposed to it from an early stage. Being outdoors in the vineyard also makes it very appealing. I think it might be that I have always associated wine with being social, something I really like!
What makes a good wine for you?
Balance, elegance, nothing to subtle, nothing to over powering. Being unique.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I have always worked on my family farm, or in the wine industry, so I don’t think I have ever had a bad working environment. The worst job I have had in a winery was to clean out a effluent filter…not cool!
What's the best part of your job?
Being able to taste some of the finest wines amongst friends in the industry. The outdoors is a plus. The whole lifestyle around it makes it one of the most social jobs there is. When you get to work in the morning, it is expected of you to start drinking, that is a big bonus!
What was the biggest mistake you ever made?
In Australia, I did not close the rotating fermenter properly, and I dropped half a tank, about 6 tonnes, of grapes on the floor. Fortunately, we could save most of it.
Your biggest success…so far?
We did pretty well on IWSC this year, claiming a gold, silver-best in class, and 2 silvers. At D’Aria, we managed a Double gold at the first attempt, which was very cool!
Weirdest description of your wine?
Freshly printed newspaper. You actually have to work at newspaper press to know what smells/tastes like!
Biggest wine idols/mentors?
I have had the privilege to work with some wine super stars, but the one that stands out most is Michel Rolland. The winemaker that I most respect must be Abe Beukes from Darling Cellars. I have had the privilege of working with him for 2 harvests.
Three Things on your "bucket list"?
1) Cape Epic cycle race.
2) To speak 5 languages.
3) Find a wife.
What was it like working in Australia?
Things happen on a different scale to what I was used to. Also, the winery was really old, but functional. It was also very far from everything, so going away for a weekend was a mission. The people were nice, and the wines were great, but I still prefer Napa Valley.
How does SA compare to the other wine making countries of the world?
We are definitely up there, we don’t have to stand back for any other country. I believe our work ethics counts in our favour, as we are regarded as some of the most hard working nations in the world, in the wine industry at least. We have such a great diversity, and we should identify each region as a niche, specializing in certain varietals and styles. With young winemakers travelling the world and picking up tips and learning a great deal more, I think we have a great future in international market.