• Meet Karlin & Annette – Vrede en Lust’s first ladies of wine and viticulture


    Newly-appointed head winemaker, Karlin Nel, and viticulturist at our Elgin farm Casey’s Ridge, Annette Human, are two supremely talented ladies with big ambition and vision to boot. We asked them a few questions to better get to know this dynamic duo responsible for getting our wines from grape to bottle. One thing to emerge clearly from the interview is that both have their feet planted firmly on Mother Earth while reaching for the stars!

    Tell us more about your life journey so far?

    Karlin: I grew up all over South Africa, my dad worked in the banking industry so we moved quite a bit. First Pretoria, where I was born, then Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria again and then Stellenbosch where the seeds of becoming a winemaker sprouted at a young age. After another move up north where I finished school, my passion for wine led me back to Maties where I obtained my BSc. oenology and viticulture degree in 2014. Shortly thereafter I joined Vrede en Lust as assistant winemaker.

    Annette: I was born on a farm near Lydenburg in Mpumalanga. On my dad’s side I come from a long line of farmers, while my mom is the academic in the family. They raised me with the belief that nothing is impossible to achieve if you can dream big. I too studied at Stellenbosch University where I obtained my BSc. oenology and viticulture and then a masters degree in viticulture. From there I gained experience working on a number of wine farms across the Western Cape before joining the Vrede en Lust team.

    What drew you to a career in the wine industry?

    Karlin: I loved plants from an early age. Vineyards fuelled this passion and then wine took over! To be honest I did not have any real idea of what to expect when I started my studies – I had no agricultural background. But I loved the idea of creating a natural product that people could enjoy. Winemaking is such an interesting and stimulating career. You learn something every day, and working with the variables of nature keeps you on your toes constantly.

    Annette: Given my background I was never going to settle for an office job, the lure of working in the outdoors and agriculture was always there. Viticulture piqued my interest more than any other career option and today I am glad to say that it turned out to be my calling.

    What do you consider the most important attributes to be successful at your job?

    Karlin: Determination, patience, a love for people. And the most important thing is passion, because if you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work! I feel winemaking is more an art than science, and art is meant to be enjoyed and appreciated after all. Because we work with nature we have to be patient and understand what the vines are telling us. Then you need determination to see you vision for the wine come to fruition. And finally a love for people is important because good teamwork and morale are imperative for running a successful cellar.

    Annette: Planning, coordination and knowledge of your land and product. I think always giving your all is key and applying the basic principles to the best of your ability.

    How do you like to spend your free time away from the cellar and vineyard?

    Karlin: My free time and hobbies range from food to people. I love food, wine and people. To enjoy good company around a table with fine wine and food feels like the ultimate luxury to me. Apart from that I enjoy running, biking, anything involving the sea, browsing markets and live music shows.

    Annette: I love spending time with my gorgeous husband and our three canine children. Also camping, mountain biking and good food, wine and whiskey!

    What are your plans and aspirations for the Vrede en Lust brand?

    Karlin: I would like to help grow the well-established brand even further and unearth all the potential offered by our vineyards. There are so many opportunities for growth in the wine industry, it is just about seizing those chances to build your brand. I learned a lot from my predecessor and mentor Susan Erasmus, not only about winemaking but also leadership and life lessons.

    Annette: With regard to the vineyards, I strive to continuously improve the quality of the grapes through precision management of every single block and by doing this hopefully we can also ensure the sustainability of the vineyards for the future.

    What is on your wine and travel bucket list?

    Karlin: I have been fortunate enough to cross two ultimate destinations off of my bucket list, namely France and Italy. Everything I experienced during my visits there in terms of wine, food and travel were the stuff of dreams! Places I would still love to see include the USA for wine, and Greece and Scotland for food and travel.

    Annette: If I have to single out a vineyard-related bucket list trip, it would have to be harvesting in the snow in Canada to make ice wine. I would also love to explore the Netherlands by bike, and visit Scotland and Ireland for the culture and whisk(e)y!

     

  • Vrede en Lust Artisan Blanc Fumé seals FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 spot

    Vrede en Lust, the majestic wine estate situated at the foot of the Simonsberg between Paarl and Franschhoek, has added to its impressive awards tally in 2017. This after the producer’s Artisan Blanc Fumé received a coveted FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 trophy at the recent awards ceremony of this annual competition dedicated to South Africans’ favourite white wine variety.

    This year the competition judges had the unenviable task to crown the Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc wines in South Africa from a whopping 190 entries received. The Top 10 judging panel consisted of convenor and seasoned winemaker Neil Ellis, joined by leading wine writers and judges Christian Eedes and Samarie Smith, winemakers Kobus Gerber and Wilhelm Pienaar, as well as Morgan Steyn, Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé.

    The winning Artisan Blanc Fumé is a delicately wooded Sauvignon Blanc from Vrede en Lust’s popular Artisan Range, a collection of terroir-driven wines handcrafted in small quantities for the estate’s wine club. In fact, only 2 800 bottles of the Artisan Blanc Fumé 2016 were produced. Matured in older 500-litre French oak barrels for 10 months, it has a delicious ripe pear flavour and hints of litchi with an undertone of balanced oak. Seamless from start to finish with a coated acidity and rounded palate, this is a wine with outstanding longevity as previous vintages have shown.

    The grapes used to produce the Artisan Blanc Fumé are cultivated on Vrede en Lust’s Elgin farm, Casey’s Ridge, which specializes in the production of cool climate white varieties. Vrede en Lust owners the Buys family acquired this picturesque 90 ha former apple farm, located in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, in 2004. In the early years the yields were quite small due to the cool climate and the vigour of the soils, and the resultant small batches of grapes sparked the inspiration for the artisanal Artisan range.

    Newly-appointed head winemaker Karlin Nel accepted the Top 10 trophy on Vrede en Lust’s behalf, and expressed delight that less commercial wooded styles of Sauvignon Blanc are now, in addition to critical acclaim, increasingly capturing the attention of consumers. “As a winemaking team we really are given creative free rein with the Artisan Range, which, coupled with the interesting Elgin fruit allow us to create wines with a lot of detail and dimension. Without a doubt this has contributed to the soaring demand for the range and its success at wine competitions.”

    The Artisan Blanc Blanc Fumé 2016 is available at Vrede en Lust’s tasting room, online wine shop and selected fine wine retailers while stocks last.

  • Tim Atkin SA Special Report 2017 – Success for Vrede en Lust

    casey's ridge estate

    Tim Atkin’s much anticipated 2017 South Africa Special Report has just been released, and at Vrede en Lust we have reason to clink our glasses to the results. The highly respected British wine writer and Master of Wine published his 5th report on the state of South African wine this year, and no less than 8 wines from our cellar received outstanding ratings.

    Here is a look at Vrede en Lust’s star performers in this year’s overview:

    Lady J Syrah 2013 – 90 points

    The Lady J Syrah is the perfect example of how fruit from two different terroirs (warmer climate Paarl-Simonsberg and cooler climate Elgin) can harmonise to create a wine showcasing the best of both regions and beautiful balance. It features juicy plums and mulberries, along with aromatic notes of violets, spice and black pepper.

    Boet Erasmus 2013 – 91 points

    Vrede en Lust’s flagship red wine is named after the owners’ grandfather, who left an awe-inspiring legacy as rugby administrator and family man. This Bordeaux blend is marked by vibrant red and black fruit, tobacco and vanilla spice and a mineral earthiness.

    Artisan Cabernet Franc 2014 – 91 points

    This acclaimed wine received the coveted Cabernet Franc Trophy at the 2016 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. It has a bright core of juicy red fruit, with integrated fynbos and savoury notes, and a fresh, generous finish.

    Artisan Casey’s Ridge Shiraz 2013 – 92 points

    Another winning wine from the 2013 crop, reaffirming the excellence of this vintage. Made from the elegant cool-climate fruit of Vrede en Lust’s Elgin farm, Casey’s Ridge, this wine exudes bright red fruit aromas and typical varietal notes of herbs and spice, with fine tannins and a persistent finish.

    Barrique Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – 93 points

    2015 was also one of the finest recent vintages in the Cape winelands, in fact, Tim Aktin remarked in his previous SA Special Report that it was “the best I’ve tasted in 26 years of writing about the country’s wines” and should be a springboard to global recognition. The Barrique Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is a gem of a wine, and a blend that Vrede en Lust’s cellar team has been perfecting since 2009 with great passion. It shows the synergy between Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and has proven to be a wine with great longevity. Rich and complex with quince, lime and elderflower flavours elegantly balanced by a lingering minerality.

    What is more, the Kogelberg Chenin Blanc 2015 and White Mischief 2016 were both awarded 89 points, and the Casey’s Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2016 88 points, underscoring the quality of the Vrede en Lust range across the whole portfolio. Get your hands on these exceptional wines now while stocks last.

  • A toast to our leading ladies

    “She is of the strangest beauty and the darkest courage, and when she walks with intent the earth trembles beneath her feet.”
    – Nicole Lyons, Hush

    The combination of power and finesse has always been a hallmark of Vrede en Lust’s wines, which no doubt can be largely attributed to towering feminine influence. Throughout the estate’s illustrious history, women have always been front and centre in its success. This women’s month we were reminded of these inspirational ladies and how their stories have been immortalised in some of Vrede en Lust’s most iconic wines:

    Marguerite Chardonnay

    One of Vrede en Lust’s most recognizable and award-winning wines, this Chardonnay is named of the eldest daughter of the farm’s first owner, Jacques de Savoye. She was a flamboyant woman who defied conventions. Made from a prime block in front of the manor house, only limited quantities of this special wine is made. It is full-bodied with citrus, toasted nuts and butterscotch aromas followed by a creamy, well-balanced palate and tones of almond and pear.

    Lady J Syrah

    A wine that celebrates a mother’s love and example. Ouma Johanna, the Buys family matriarch, is admired for her elegance and poise and hence the nickname Lady J. This appealing Shiraz was named in her honour as a tribute on her 80th birthday. In keeping with the character of its namesake, it is made in a classical, understated style with supple fruit and spice. The Lady J has gathered widespread critical acclaim since it was first released, notably a double platinum award at this year’s National Wine Challenge/Top 100 SA Wines for the exceptional 2013 vintage.

    Jess Dry Rosé

    Continuing the cherished tradition of naming wines after family members, this refreshingly dry rosé is named after owner Dana Buys’ eldest daugther Jessica Lee. It is a blend of 71% Pinotage, 26% Shiraz and 3% Grenache. Lively and flavourful with abundant ripe red cherries, watermelon and strawberry, combined with red summer fruit flavours on the nose and palate followed a smooth, mouth-watering finish.

    Sarah Bubbly by Nature

    Like her older sister Jessica, Sarah shares a passion for the Vrede en Lust brand and has been an active wine ambassador over the years. Like her, this wine is quirky and vivacious. It is a distinctive bottle-fermented bubbly blended from the finest Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc base wines. With its extraordinary freshness and depth of flavour it is fast becoming one of the most popular wines in the Vrede en Lust portfolio.

    Red Lady Merlot

    The beautiful ladies of the Vrede en Lust sales team with their signature red dresses are a vital part of the estate’s allure with their consummate knowledge, hospitality and energy. This Merlot is selected from one of the high-lying vineyard blocks on Vrede en Lust’s Elgin farm, Casey’s Ridge. It has an enticing red fruit aroma with supple, integrated tannins and a lingering, fresh finish.

  • Susan bids Vrede en Lust farewell after 12 years at the winemaking helm

    Susan Erasmus (right) with successor Karlin Nel (left).

    It is with sadness but great appreciation that we say goodbye to our head winemaker of 12 years, Susan Erasmus, at the end of August. We look back at Susan’s tenure with fondness, and while her parting is an enormous loss, we are grateful for her long-standing commitment in establishing Vrede en Lust as a sought-after super premium wine brand, and wish her well as she spreads her wings in the industry.

    Susan was only 26 years old and starting out on her winemaking journey with big aspirations when she took charge of the Vrede en Lust cellar in 2006. Coincidentally, her assistant until recently, Karlin Nel, who now takes over as head winemaker, is also a youthful 26.

    Susan has experienced many highlights during her time at Vrede en Lust, notably when she received the Woman Winemaker of the Year award for her maiden vintage Viognier 2007. Yet she will be the first to tell you that winemaking is a career that keeps one humble – no two vintages are ever the same and every harvest brings its own unique challenges. “As a winemaker it is important to ultimately know your vineyards and trust your instincts,” she says.

    Other memorable highlights for Susan have included the growth of the Artisan Range, Vrede en Lust’s experimental handcrafted range made in limited quantities for the wine club, and the high acclaim received by wines across the entire range. “When I look back at our positioning in the market 11 years ago, the growth and expansion of the brand has been phenomenal. The best description for our wines remains affordable luxury, and this is clearly recognised by consumers. I think the care and attention to detail that goes into the making of every Vrede en Lust wine has reaped rewards in a big way. It shows in the ever growing demand for our wines in the trade, our thriving wine club and the regular achievements at local and international level. Another recent stand-out was having Tim Atkin MW taste our range and getting glowing feedback, showing that our wines can shine on a global stage.”

    Susan will now be joining Laffort SA, where she will be assisting wine producers with technical advice, but will still continue to lend her expertise to Vrede en Lust’s cellar team from time to time. And she has every confidence in her successor. “I look forward to helping Karlin as mentor and consultant. I know that given her exceptional skill and vision she will be very successful in her new role and look forward to seeing her grow and prosper.”

    Go well Susan and best wishes for the future, your legacy at Vrede en Lust will be treasured.

  • Popular Jess Dry Rosé shows its star quality at Rosé Rocks!

    It’s been a spectacular start to the 2017 wine awards season for Vrede en Lust, with excellent results from various leading competitions. Now one of our most popular wines, the Jess Dry Rosé joins the esteemed list of Vrede en Lust wines to be awarded this year, after winning a gold medal at the Rosé Rocks awards, an annual competition dedicated exclusively to showcasing South Africa’s finest rosé wines. A total of only 15 double gold medals, and 20 gold medals were awarded out of 161 still and sparkling wines entered.

    This achievement is not the only recent milestone for the Jess Rosé, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. First released in 2017, it was named after Vrede en Lust owner Dana Buys’ daughter Jessica Lee to commemorate her 16th birthday. His brief to the cellar team then was that the wine had to live up to its namesake – vibrant, energetic and playful, yet stylish and elegant.

    The Vrede en Lust Jess Rosé is a blend of predominantly Pinotage grapes blended with Shiraz. The grapes were harvested in small batches at varying sugar levels, and the different components were fermented separately in stainless steel tanks to enhance the options for final blending. Juice was treated like white wine and fermented with no lees contact and no malolactic fermentation. This resulted in a wine with fresh, well-defined red fruit layers and a lively, balanced acidity.

    The pale pink Jess Rosé is brimful of strawberry, raspberry and fresh cut watermelon flavours. Its superb structure and balance makes it a versatile food wine. The Jess is terrific with dishes as diverse as aromatic chicken curries, fruit-based salads and any combination with seafood, especially salmon.

    Did you know? More about rosé:

    • Rosé is one of the fastest growing wine categories in South Africa. According to industry body Sawis, local sales of rosé wine trebled between 2007 and 2014. This is in line with international trends, in fact, rosé wine sales are growing at least 10 times faster than the growth of overall table wine sales in the US, according to Nielsen research.
    • Provence in France is seen as the traditional birthplace of rosé. The famous dry, pale pink wines of this region continue to grow in popularity in major international wine markets and in France, sales of rosé now outstrip white wine.
    • While rosé has stereotypically been perceived as a feminine drink, much of the growth in US rosé sales is being attributed to men, according to a 2016 Forbes.com article – so much so that the term brosé (referring to rosé that men supposedly like) emerged and started trending on social media.

    Sources: Sawis, Nielsen, Forbes.com

     

  • Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 shines at Signature Red Blend Report 2017

    The results of the second annual Signature Red Blend Report were announced recently to a select group of wine industry stakeholders and media in Cape Town, with the Vrede en Lust Artisan Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 enjoying pride of place among the elite group of red blends selected. What is more, the Artisan Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon was one of only 4 wines entered for this year’s competition to receive a score of 92/100 points, reaffirming the rare quality that has made it one of the most sought-after offerings on the Vrede en Lust wine portfolio.

    The Signature Red Blend Report is organised by Winemag.co.za under the convenorship of well respected wine writer and judge Christian Eedes. The main criteria for entries are stipulated as wines which are “distinctive of their originators” and “those which draw particular attention in the market place”. These wines are generally not Bordeaux or Cape Blends, but predominantly contain the Rhône varieties, although they are not limited to them. There were 82 entries from 62 producers received this year. Of these entries only 20 wines received a rating of 90 or higher on the 100-point quality scale.

    The Vrede en Lust Artisan Range was originally initiated as an experimental range made in limited quantities (between 5-15 barrels) specially for Vrede en Lust’s discerning Wine Club members. The winemaking approach with these small batches is artisanal and creative, with minimum intervention and utmost attention to ensure the wines display a character distinctive of their vineyard site. For the Artisan Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are used from 2 specific blocks on the Vrede en Lust estate carefully selected for their individual flavour characteristics. The Shiraz shows spice and and upfront fruit character, which is well balanced by the typical Cabernet berry aromas.

    The Artisan Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon is comprised of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The excellent 2013 vintage shows layered dark fruit, and a beautiful perfume of pepper and attractive oak on the nose. The Signature Red Blend Report judges described the wine as “Rich and full but balanced – good depth and freshness, the tannins nicely chewy. It has a real lusciousness about it.” 

    For more information about this exclusive wine and availability, contact the tasting room on info@vnl.co.za or 021 874 1611.

     

  • Our Kogelberg Chenin Blanc 2015 Wows SA Sommeliers

    Vrede en Lust has made a big impression on the local wine and hospitality fraternity with its remarkable Kogelberg Chenin Blanc – a wine that has been turning heads since its maiden release. The 2015 vintage has been selected for this year’s Sommeliers Selection, South Africa’s first and only wine competition adjudicated solely by a panel of the country’s top sommeliers.

    For this unique competition, entries are judged for their food appropriateness and gastronomical relevance during blind tastings, and selected wines are compiled in a wine list format which is distributed to the local restaurant trade. The winning wines will also be showcased at trade and public tastings which will take place on 28 September and 5 October in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively.

    The Kogelberg Chenin Blanc was selected by the Sommeliers Selection panel in the category ‘full and rich whites’, underscoring the complexity of the wine which makes it the perfect partner for many styles of cuisine, and creamy, aromatic dishes in particular.

    It is a wine with a special story, with the grapes used for the Kogelberg Chenin Blanc grown on Vrede en Lust’s Elgin farm, Casey’s Ridge. When Vrede en Lust owners, the Buys family, bought the farm in 2005, it was almost entirely planted to apple orchards, but recognizing the potential to produce superlative wine grapes, the farm was replanted to varieties ideally suited to the farm’s cool climate and unique terroir. The cool climate wines produced from these grapes complement the warmer climate Simonsberg-Paarl plantings and are a natural extention to the individualistic Vrede en Lust range. The Kogelberg Chenin Blanc originates from a registered single vineyard named the Kogelberg block, so named because of its location in the Kogelberg Biosphere, the first UNESCO proclaimed biosphere in Africa with an incredible diversity of fynbos and other plant species.

    The first bottling of the Kogelberg Chenin Blanc was released in 2011 and received a Gold Michelangelo Award just prior to its release, an achievement that was repeated by the 2012 vintage. The wine is produced in limited quantities and fermented in 225 and 500 litre French oak barrels using 2nd and 3rd fill barrels. The wine receives lees contact for 10 months prior to bottling for enhanced flavour and complexity. While the 2015 vintage is presently showing exceptionally well as the Sommelier Selection result testifies, it is also a wine with outstanding ageability that develops further character within 5-7 years from vintage.

    Winemaker Susan Erasmus, who is known for her artisanal, hands-on approach in the cellar, describes the Kogelberg Chenin Blanc as a riveting taste experience, with layered, lingering ripe stone fruit and honey flavours combined with refreshing citrus notes. Available at the cellar and selected fine wine retailers while stocks last.

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