Home Lifestyle Zandvliet winemaker salutes unsung vineyard heroes

Zandvliet winemaker salutes unsung vineyard heroes


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zandvliet wines lifestyleSay Zandvliet and it will echo “Shiraz”. Being one of the very first wineries in the country to bottle this noble cultivar, this wine estate on the outskirts of the Robertson Valley wine route combines time-honoured tradition with modern-day expertise to produce pure luxury in a glass.

The story of Zandvliet is all about Shiraz. It extends back to the first plantings during the 1870’s. Some of the magic is found in the soil, some in the cellar and much of it in the hands of a passionate team.

One of these passionate team members, Jacques Cilliers, speaks about his passion as a winemaker, and how each little achievement pushed him to new heights and new flavours. From working in finance and knowing nothing about winemaking, to being an esteemed winemaker at Zandvliet, we are honoured to welcome Cilliers as one of our “21 faces of summer”.

Hey, there, Jacques! Tell us, how did you get started in wine?

At one point in time no one made wine in the family. I was working in finance, but always wanted to farm. Wine was enjoyed at the dinner table. After returning from overseas I enrolled at Elsenburg, not really thinking about wine. I just wanted to study crop hydroponics and return to Europe, but at the last moment one off my lecturers convinced me to change my subjects, and here I am making wine.    

What has surprised you about being a winemaker?

The fact that fans come to a wine tasting to listen about wine. I find this humbling. I guess we all just want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and relax with a glass of wine in hand.

Most memorable wine moments?

Every vintage successfully sold is a memorable moment. Presenting a five-decade Zandvliet Shiraz vertical wine tasting was also something beautiful.  

What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?

Plenty! But they stay private…

Who are your heroes in the wine industry?

The forgotten heroes, I think, are the farm workers who prepare every vintage for us winemakers to make memorable wines.

What is your favourite wine to pair with your favourite meal?

For me, food and wine are important, but the family and friends I share it with are the most important. This winter I made boeuf bourguignon and enjoyed it with a Zandvliet Shiraz a few times, but just recently we enjoyed Cob with the 2019 Zandvliet Chardonnay.

And your biggest challenges?

People = emotions = challenges?! But luckily there is wine that encourages conversation which brings about new perspectives.

How do you know when you have a good vintage?

You can spot a great vintage in the vineyard already. And a great wine has a good balance between fruit and structure. A wine that rolls of the palatte is always a good one.

What is your favourite wine related memory?

Buying an expensive bottle of Pinot Noir with a friend when we were students with no money, and then sharing it with our wives ten years later. And then also enjoying my birth year wine that my father bought about 44 years ago, and it was still drinkable.

More about Zandvliet wines

Shiraz Rosé

Zandvliet-Shiraz-RoseThis delightfully rose gold pink wine displays a distinct bouquet of rose petals, melon, strawberries and raspberries coulis. The palate is well rounded, but refreshingly vibrant, packed with red fruit and finishes with a delightful flowery undertone. This versatile wine will pair beautifully with seafood, light pastas, fish and pork tenderloin.

Buy 6 x 750ml of this delightful Shiraz Rose’ for R480.


Zandvliet-ShirazThis ruby red wine is matured in seasoned French and American oak barrels for 18 – 24 months. This cultivates the complex nose showing off flavours of plums, blackcurrants and pepper with hints of mixed spice. These deep flavours follow through to a seamless, supple and complex palate with added hints of dark chocolate. Enjoy a glass with some Boeuf Bourguignon, you can thank us later.

This wine is bottled in many different sizes, up to bottles of 18 litres! Perfect for a family gathering over the festive season. Buy 6 x 750ml for R720 or 6 x 1.5L bottles for R1 680.

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Dona Van Eeden
Dona Van Eeden
Dona van Eeden is a budding writer and journalist, starting her career as an intern at Food for Mzansi. Furnished with a deep love and understanding of environmental systems and sustainable development, she aims to make the world a better place however she can. In her free time you can find her with her nose in a book or wandering on a mountain, looking at the world through her camera's viewfinder.

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