Having assisted Finlayson in the cellar since 2011, Chris Albrecht was officially appointed winemaker in 2017. The change was low profile but the ongoing mutual respect and the land they tend together has ensured a seamless transition.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a gap to do another “Out to Lunch” feature with a winemaker (something I started in 2005), so when an opportunity presented itself to meet Albrecht in Hermanus, I jumped at it.
When I arrived at the quaint Heritage Cottage restaurant on Marine Drive, Albrecht was waiting with a bottle of his yet-to-be-released maiden vintage Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2017.
Atop the famous cliffs of Hermanus, with magnificent views of the bay, I soon discover why Finlayson and the owners of Bouchard Finlayson would have hand-selected Albrecht to take over the reins in the cellar.
After completing his BSc Agriculture in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch, Albrecht gained international experience spending three years working six vintages in three countries: New Zealand, France and the US.
In December 2010, Albrecht started his career at Bouchard Finlayson, cutting his teeth on pinot noir – all the while mentored by the pinot pioneer himself – Finlayson - and finding kinship among the other great winemakers in the valley.
Although relatively isolated geographically, the Walker Bay winemakers are anything but when it comes to partnership. Together, they have developed an incredible sense of team - all chipping in and helping on each other’s farms when needed, regularly braaing together and sharing a kind of magnanimous understanding that whatever is good for the whole, is good for each part.