What do you enjoy most about winemaking? It’s an incredibly rewarding job that brings together such a diverse range of skills and tasks. I love that I have to use my hands, my brain, and my sense of taste and smell to get the job done. I love that it combines blue collar and white collar aspects into one role that’s at once pushing toward innovation and yet also leaning on centuries of tradition.
Your winemaking philosophy? My philosophy and Rustenberg’s philosophy is very much the same – we focus on the estate being bigger than any individual. Together, we want to create classic wines that speak about where they’re made and are varietally correct and stylistically true.
What do you regard as the main secrets behind Rustenberg’s success? I think the fact that we’re family-owned plays a huge part in our story. It means that we’re able to take a long-term view on success.
What makes Rustenberg’s terroir special? This is an incredible property to grow wine on. It overlooks False Bay, so we have the influence of the ocean. It’s got an amazing range of slopes – facing south, north and west, enabling us to successfully plant and grow so many varieties. We also have a lot of pristine water that comes from the mountainside and, on top of all that, decomposed granite soils that are perfect for growing wine.
What do you perceive as some of the current opportunities in the South African wine industry? I’m excited about seeing more of Africa drinking wine. It’s happening slowly with the rising middle-class, I suspect it could really take off in the future. I look forward to one day exporting only to Africa.
And its greatest challenges? Our industry faces so many challenges. I think transformation is front and center the biggest. We need to transform the wine industry to be more inclusive.
Grape growers are also not being paid enough. Big companies are really hurting them and putting them out of business.
The leafroll virus is another big challenge. I don’t think we talk about it enough – we need to spend more time and money replanting vineyards and preventing it from spreading.
What do you envisage for the future of Rustenberg? We prefer to keep things understated. Although it’s our intention to keep innovating, our priority is to continue to strengthen the established relationships we have with our agents and customers all around the world.
Your favourite wines - to make and drink? I love making (and drinking) all kinds of wine. I love the diversity within wine, but I have a particularly soft spot for Chardonnay, fortified dessert wines and Grenache.
Reflecting on our time together, it would seem to me that Murray, the farm he was raised on, and the wine they together produce, is unquestionably, the real deal.