It’s finally summer, and after a turbulent year we are all looking forward to the upcoming festive season to relax and unwind. And what better way to do that than with a glass of Mzansi’s finest wines in hand?
Today, we’re kicking off our brand-new “21 Faces of Summer” campaign where every day until Monday, 21 December 2020, Food For Mzansi will feature a different winery and its winemaker. We can’t think of a better way to say #KeDezembaBoss than by also celebrating the people behind our fave wines.
First-up is Willie Conradie from Van Loveren Wines. But before we introduce you to him, a little surprise! Food for Mzansi fans gets 10% off wines bought from the Van Loveren online sales shop between today and Christmas eve. Simply use the code “Food4Mzansi2020”.
Howzit, Willie! So, how did you end up in the world of wine?
Growing up in the Robertson Valley, where my dad farmed with grapes, farming or just working in the agricultural sector was always in the back of my mind. And when I went to Boland Agricultural High School in Paarl, that’s where it all started for me wanting to become a winemaker after oom Bartho Eksteen
Any surprises in this game?
Definitely the long hours during harvest season. *Laughs* No, just kidding! What really surprised me is the difference in each vintage. The smallest of change, whether it is the weather or just any natural change, will have an impact on the grapes. And this is something that I really like about the winemaking industry. It keeps each vintage unique in its own way.
And your greatest achievement?
Having been at a few cellars now, my most memorable moment would be winning the trophy for best Méthode Cap Classique at the 2019 Michelangelo Awards for our Christina MCC Brut NV. It was really special! For now, my goals are just to grow as a winemaker and to learn as much as I can from everybody in the industry and using that to make great wines for everybody’s pleasure.
Any other goals you’re chasing?
I’m definitely working towards being in the top 5 for the Young Winemaker of the Year Awards and, hopefully, will go on to winning it. But if I would keep on telling you what all my goals are you would never stop writing. *Laughs*
But each year there is something that I set for myself to achieve – whether it is a certain competition where we want to win something, or just wanting to try and make a very specific wine each year and try something new.
In the world of wine, who do you most admire?
There are many people that I admire in the wine industry. There is really no-one specific to point out. I really would like to learn as much as I can from all of them.
What is your favourite wine to pair with your favourite meal?
Definitely our Christina Chardonnay with a nice grilled yellow tail fish with a butter and garlic sauce.
And the most challenging part of your job?
The fact that all vintages are different. You get your good and bad, but it is mostly good. But every vintage comes with its unique challenges for a winemaker and this isn’t always bad. You learn something new on how to handle the grapes and wine if it were to happen again in a vintage a couple of years from now.
On that topic… How do you know that you have a good vintage?
For me it all starts in the vineyards. Luckily, we at Van Loveren have a great team of farm managers who are doing a great job making sure our grapes are of great quality. The analysis of the grapes on arrival at the cellar is a good indication of healthy grapes. I don’t want to make too many adjustment to the grapes because I really want the wine to express its own flavour and texture in the cellar.
Any guilty pleasures with wine?
No, not really. There are a few that I would definitely not recommend, but overall, all of us are human and we are different. We have different tastes, styles and preferences, so if you have a pairing that you like and that works for you, it is great.
Any fun memories?
Would you believe me if I say that I actually don’t have a weird story about something that has happened to me in the cellar or at a tasting? I haven’t done many tastings in my career so far. During harvest time there is always something that happens, like doing the wrong additions to the wrong tank, or forgetting to add yeast to a tank and after a couple of days you just can’t understand why this wine is not fermenting. But it general we have to be very careful of what we are doing.
More about Van Loveren Wines
On the Van Loveren website you will see a beautiful and extensive range of their wines – anything from red or white wine, to sweet, sparkling or dessert wines – and they even have a range of craft beers and spirits. Here are two of our favourite summer picks:
Listen, this is a bargain deluxe! Food For Mzansi readers can now buy six bottles of the Christina Chardonnay (750ml) for just R675! It’s a premium quality, full-bodied and oak matured white wine.
This is a well-balanced, single vineyard wine. Wine lovers will tell you its typical citrus and buttery aromas are complimented by toasty oak derived from new French oak barrels. It’s also the perfect wine to celebrate the big days, and is considered a serious wine to accompany fine cuisine. Think good shellfish, grilled fish, rich chicken dishes and creamy pastas.
It’s also a multi-award winning wine! Awards include the 2020 Michelangelo Wine Awards (Platinum), 2020 Platter’s Wine Guide awarded in 2019 (4 1⁄2 Stars), 2019 Gold Wine Awards (Gold) and much more!
Another great choice, especially for the celebratory festive season fast approaching, is the elegant Méthode Cap Classique Brut Sparkling Wine.
Spoil yourself, your friends and your family with this stunning deal – six bottles of Christina MCC (750ml) for just R816! Enjoy as an aperitif or with fresh oysters, sushi, fresh strawberries or any seafood or fruit-based dishes.
Another award-winning wine, with upfront lime and citrus flavours, and soft refined bubbles. Doesn’t this sound just perfect for the summer holidays?