Growing on the vine
Growing on the vine

Lunch with Trizanne Barnard of eponymous Trizanne Signature Wines provided me with a refreshing antidote to the sweltering heat at this crazy time of year. Raised in a small town just outside Johannesburg, Barnard’s upbringing instilled in her a set of values and skills molded on discipline, independence and adventure. This set her on a journey which exposed her to agriculture on a kibbutz in Israel, then to the world of fine wine and food in London, culminating in her decision to fulfill her teenage dream and study in Stellenbosch.

So, meeting at Open Door restaurant in Constantia, I asked her why she decided to study winemaking. While enjoying delicious seared tuna, avocado, purée, broad bean and asparagus salad, Barnard explained it was the diversity that it offered that appealed to her. “Winemaking combines so many great things in life - beautiful surroundings, physical hard work, challenges, intellectual stimulation, philosophy and artistic freedom combined with scientific backing. It is the full package.”

Trizanna (left), Wade (right)
Trizanna (left), Wade (right)

Talking about a full package, this mother of two young children, and an avid surfer, is the real deal! It just feels to me that women are made to make wine! With amazing role models such as Norma Ratcliffe of Warwick and Rianie Strydom of Haskell - and having chalked up winemaking experience across the globe - Barnard made the decision to take the plunge and start her own wine brand under the name Trizanne Signature Wines. She says she knew this was never going to be the easy option, but the only one that would allow her the independence and flexibility to realise her dream of balancing what she loves doing, with having the time to travel and spend time with husband and sons, Daniel and Jean.

Enjoying a glass of Trizanne Shiraz, beautifully paired with springbok loin with polenta, porcini and cranberry jus, I asked her how she feels about the future for South African wines internationally.“I think we're on such a good wicket. We're getting noticed for all the right things now. We can compete on the international arena and when it comes to quality, South Africa is producing excellent quality over a wide spectrum of styles of wine and price points. We have interesting people - diverse cultures and philosophies - a beautiful country to show to the outside world, and we are finally getting the confidence to tell our unique story to the world," she says.

And I agree. With an exciting new generation of talented, dedicated and hardworking winemakers like Barnard emerging, who believe anything is possible, let's continue to ride the wave and wake up every morning loving life!


Where did you start your winemaking career? Mosswood, Western Australia / Klein Constantia (Locally)

Highlights in your career: When I first started seeing the light after 4 years running my own business, with numerous times in between questioning myself and if I’m on the right track.

Winemaking philosophy: To take what I love most about my job (diversity) and apply it to my winemaking philosophy: sourcing from very diverse regions – because we have such amazingly diverse terroir and try and express that special place on earth in the bottle.

What do you regard as the main secrets behind TSW success: Hard work, diligence, taking calculated risks, focusing on something until you succeed before moving onto the next.

What makes TSW terroir special: Elim is a very special place, ancient soils, ocean breezes and the wind! Cool climate, light intensity. Swartland: diversity in soils, old vines.

Challenges for SA wine producers: Our weather – but this is global. To keep up with international pace – to not slack down, but to keep on pushing the boundaries.

How can we make wine more accessible to the SA population: Educate them, make it fun, take out the snobbish element out of wine, expose them to all different styles so that they can start and explore and feel good about themselves – rather than intimidated.

Favourite wine / red to drink: Alsacian White and Rhone red

Favourite white / red to make: Sauvignon Blanc: it is a grape that we know a lot of – we have done a lot of research on the grape and have access to a lot of documented info.  Therefore we can apply knowledge to the vineyards and to the cellar practises to make the best possible wine with the grapes we receive. Shiraz: it is again a diverse grape – grows in different climatic conditions and gives very different flavours profiles. It is also a forgiving grape when it comes to picking and your windows for picking is a little less critical compared to for instance Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wade Bales is the Founder of The Wine Society

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