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.