MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Winemakers only have so many chances to get it right
For its 30th anniversary celebrations Graham Beck has released a special magnum
New wineries usually have young winemakers. Old wineries often have older winemakers. There’s very little surprising about this. Recently graduated wine buffs try to define their own aesthetic — think any of the rock star establishments created in SA in the past two decades — so they build to embody their vision. Eben Sadie left Spice Route to create his enterprise; the Mullineuxs left Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards to develop their eponymous cellar.
The other side of the equation is less obvious: if a winemaker grows into his job at a long-established cellar he doesn’t need to move. Proprietors attribute real value to their years in the job. Usually there’s a succession plan, where the sometime assistant/junior becomes “winemaker” and the former winemaker becomes “cellarmaster”. As long as complacency doesn’t compromise output, having access to the years of experience can be worth more than the excitement of new blood...