The Diner’s Club Young Winemaker Award can be a heavy cross to be for a young man or woman who then gets thrust into the spotlight and great expectations piled onto them.
This year there were two recipients of the Young Winemaker Award, Christiaan Groenewald (Eagle’s Cliff Wines) and Wade Roger-Lund (Jordan Estate) claiming the top honours.
Groenewald grew up on the family farm in the Breede River Valley where his father grew wine grapes, so he was exposed to the wine business from a young age.
He obtained a degree in Agriculture and an MBA in Business Administration at Stellenbosch University, worked as an agricultural economist, a financial planner and managed a wine export company before returning to the farm on the death of his father.
He built a cellar in 2005, where he makes the Eagle’s Cliff range of wines, wines that offer beautiful fruit and great drinkability at a reasonable price, as well as the more serious Arendskloof wines.
Roger-Lund comes from good wine stock, his passion for wine came through his uncle, John Loubser, cellarmaster at Steenberg and MCC maker of Silverthorn. This winemaker surprised even himself when he was handed the accolade because he created the first Cap Classique under the Jordan label, which was released this year.
“I was not expecting this and it was quite a big shock, I knew the quality of the wine was high at places like Rustenberg and Simonsig the wines have great track records.
Roger-Lund says he wanted to create an MCC that was truly South African and he did because what he did is create a fruity and lean MCC.
“I wanted the an upfront fruit forward flavour with great body and a structure,” says Roger-Lund.
He’s now planning on releasing an MCC under his own label and says it’s an exciting project.
“The goal is to have the first vintage by 2019 and for it to go into bottle in 2021. I still need to identify some chardonnay and I’m looking in the Robertson and Stanford areas,” he says.
The honour of a young winemaker award appears to only be encouraging him to reach even high honours.