As promised in my previous post, this post is all about my love for wine and how I become more loving, knowledgeable and thirsty than your average Joe.
After an extremely fun, chaotic and mind enhancing 4 years I received a degree from The University of Stellenbosch, majoring in Viticulture and Oenology (Winemaking). Simply put, my time spent at Elsenburg, the agricultural faculty, was nothing short of challenging. Going to Afrikaans only lectures and being one of only a handful of English speaking people didn’t make me the most popular person around. Even more so because of my style of dress and occasional peroxided beautifully flowing mullet.
I’m not saying that there w as a purposeful segregation, it’s just how things are I guess. My saving grace at some campus interaction came when I made the Koshuis (Residence) First team rugby which earned me the nickname “Soutie” for years to come. I won’t go into too much detail about those 4 years as there isn’t enough space on the internet to mention all the good times.
What I can say is that they involved a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, much time spent alone in the library and some groundbreaking conversations with lifelong friends. Going to University is definitely the most fun I’ve ever had but I think any student will tell you that although there are 1000’s of other students in the same boat as you, they aren’t going to sail your ship safely to harbour. You my friend are the captain!
January 2012, 2 months after my graduation ceremony I got an internship on the flawless and well renowned Demorgenzon Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. That is when my practical journey into wine began. Under the first class mentorship of Estate manager Carl Van Der Merwe, all that was once a theoretical text book mystery became a reality and I get a first hand experience as to how a working wine estate is run. After spending an eye opening 6 months living on the farm and 500 Tonnes of harvested grapes later I decide to move into a different avenue of the wine industry. I decided to join forces with a young entrepreneur (such a powerful title) from Johannesburg, who has an idea to put premium wine online in South Africa accompanied by artisan foods to pair with.
I spent 3 great years assisting an ecommerce startup business 5ounces.com to a point of takeover by corporate giants Naspers MIH Africa. With over 300+ 4 Star and above Platter Wine Guide bottles of wine drank, analysed and blogged about, I felt like my job was done. Although I did quite like rubbing shoulders with the likes of OLX, Kalahari and PayU employees I felt that I had gained enough knowledge of an online startup. I am always and will forever be thankful to my CEO and numbers guru Trevor Gosling. His immeasurable guidance has set me up for all of my future endeavors.
On to Catch of the Day Wines, my next venture.
Sourcing quality wines from reputable wine estates around the Western Cape at well negotiated value prices and labelled to order. This sounded like my type of work. I would get to choose what wines I wanted on our portfolio. I became Director of Operations and began to source some good value wines that can be enjoyed by many without breaking the bank.
After 3 years of buying and blending wine I felt the needed to go back to the beginning, I wanted to make wine again. Catch of the Day Wines is at a point where the business is running itself.
In my travels sourcing the nectar of the vine I met many hard working winemakers, who in my eyes were having all the fun. I did some thinking and decided to get in contact with a magnificent family owned and run farm only a minutes drive from where I did my studies in Stellenbosch. They were also one of the brands that were on my portfolio at 5ounces.com. The farm is situated in a world renowned ward, namely The Simonsberg. This is it, Marklew, this is where I’m going to make my wine.
From studies, to grafting on a wine farm, to buying and selling, this is the new chapter in my wine story. I’ll be sure to be keeping you up-to-date with all the happenings with this very new and even more exciting wine making adventure.