My journey in wine, so far…

…Quite possibly all started back in the ‘70s, when I was four and would sneak a sip or two of Swartland Port from my parent’s glasses. This luscious, sweet, complex elixir was what the Swartland was famous for, before the current revival of old vine Chenin, in an amazing array of white wines, white blends and now Kap Klassiek.

My childhood was spent, with weekends and holidays filled with horseback rides in the Paardeberg visiting friends on the neighboring farms. After completing high school at Paarl Girls High – I boarded a plane to Germany. This visit inadvertently turned into a gap year – with me washing dishes at the managers’ canteen of Bayer & Bayer to keep head above water at first. However, a visit with an uncle who sensed that something was about to change, he had organized an appointment for me to visit WEINSBERG Wein – und Obstbau Schule (the German equivalent of Elsenburg). An apprenticeship offer got me started, which entailed running research winemaking operations, working in the vineyards (pruning in the snow a highlight) and being a part of all the tastings I could manage to get myself into as pourer (of course I managed to sneak in a taste of some of the finest vintages of German Rieslings and I fell in love with wine over and over again), and I was hooked on the idea of a career in the wine industry.

Making my way via school at Bad Kreuznach to Geisenheim – Germany’s premier viticulture & oenology institute and alma mater of many of South Africa’s top winemakers – where in my third year of study I was given the opportunity to craft my first Winzer Sekt (German version of Methode Traditionale) from Riesling. Here the penny dropped to one-day produce my own.

One of the requisites to completing one’s honors in viticulture and oenology at Geisenheim is to complete a research thesis, – so off I went to Italy spending 9 months doing research on canopy management and its effect on wine quality in Chardonnay. While doing my research, I happened to discover Prosecco – Italian tank fermented sparkling wine – and this only fuelled my passion. The indescribable delicacy of aromas, complexity of flavor and the persistence of the palate of Prosecco made by smaller producers I found to be amazing.

Filia – Latin for daughter – is the embodiment of our family passion for the Paardeberg, old vines and farming heritage.

Cheers! Gesondheid! Prost! A la santé!

A five-day jaunt in Champagne involved tasting some of the finest wines from the most prestigious houses, as well as the smaller producers in this historical region; more importantly, I was afforded the opportunity of tasting their wines in magnum (1.5ℓ bottles). Tastings were always accompanied by mind-blowing food matches and some quite influential people. Lasting impressions were the special vintage releases of Tattinger Rosé, Bollinger and those of the smaller Marques, and surely compounded my desire to craft my own sparkling wine, one day in South Africa. After a few stints including Bottelary, Constantia and a job taking me through all winemaking regions of the Cape, I went back to Nuwedam.

With the assistance of a well-known experienced viticulturist, and her unfaltering belief in old bush vines, we slowly began the rehabilitation of our vineyards. She brought with her a fellow believers in these old vines, who crafted one five star stunner after another – either in blends or as single varietal wines from these meager crops – all the while a large illustrious producer who sourced from my vineyard derided the quality of the fruit.

So after five years of learning, listening and providing fruit for others, I finally decided to craft my own first wine in 2011 – a Kap Klassiek named Filia.