5 Minutes with Augustus [Gus] Dale, winemaker at 7 Springs…

Augustus Dale, Winemaker at 7 Springs Winery

Seven Springs Vineyard is a premium wine producer, situated on the R320 Hemel en Aarde Valley road, between the seaside town of Hermanus and the spa town of Caledon. The Estate is owned by Tim and Vaughan Pearson.

Tim & Vaughan Pearson, Owners of 7 Springs Wine Estate

The vineyard nestles between Shaw’s Mountain to the North and the Teslaarsdal Mountain Range to the South. Walker Bay and the Atlantic Ocean are beyond these mountains. It is this oceanic influence, coupled with its shale derived soils, known locally as Bokkeveld Shale, that gives the 7 Springs vines the potential to produce exceptional grapes from both North and South facing vineyards. Noble varieties, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir, have been planted to express the full potential of each cultivar.

Gus, using a Wine Thief to draw a sample of wine from a barrel

Augustus Dale, is the person making magic in the Cellar on the Estate. I spent 5 minutes asking the question about what makes the man.

What was the defining moment in your life that set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?

Having started off as a Viticulturist, I became frustrated at working my ass of in the vines through sub-zero winter temperatures and hot summers, only to hand over my precious grapes to a wine-maker who didn’t always do the best with them. This inspired me to learn about Oenology so that I could see the grapes through to their natural end, from planting to the wine-glass.

Where did you train to become a winemaker?

At a wine school in Beaune, Burgundy, France.

Alex Dale of Radford Dale Wines

Who would you regard as your mentor?

My brother Alex. He was instrumental in helping me stay at the wine school and subsequently invited me over to South Africa to participate with Harvests here. I completed over 10 harvests with Radford Dale before finding my own feet in this country.

Newly harvested Chenin Blanc

You work with a selection of some of the world’s most noble grape varieties. Is there one other variety with which you would really like to work?

Chenin Blanc – Though Chardonnay is in my heart, Chenin Blanc from South Africa really speaks to my taste-buds. In my opinion, it is the best suited white varietal for the climate and soils of South Africa.

Is there another wine you would like to make in your cellar with the varieties available to you there?

Nope!

You seem to be quite innovative with new wine styles – what leads you there?

Having learned old-world techniques in a highly regulated system in France, to then come to South Africa and learn new techniques in a virtually unregulated environment (other than tax generation!), this really helped me form my own hybrid phylosophy of what I believe to be the best of both worlds – Respect Mother Nature and do the best with what you have.

Morning mists in Burgundy

If you could choose anywhere in the world to make wine other than where you are now, where would it be?

Back in Burgundy, without a doubt! It is one of the most magical places on earth. Probably the most decadent too – I think my fourteen years there are responsible for my stifening arteries! – When leaving the region I re-named it Blurrgundy and it seems many who visit are now finding this appropriate!!

And what grape type would you use?

Pinot Noir – The heart-break grape.

Pinot Noir, ripening on the vine

I know it is a bit tricky asking a father to choose his favourite child, but which one of your wines is your current favourite?

The one that is busy at work in my cellar – Oak fermented, clone selected Pinot Noir 2021.

Your greatest bottle of wine ever?

My father was a Fine Wine Importer in the UK when I was growing up, so we drank an awful lot of Vintage Port, Burgundies and Bordeaux wines but my all-time favourite would have to be a Musigny Grand Cru – 1960.

What is your favourite style of food?

French and Spanish – Mediterranean.

A well stocked Tapas Bar

Your best style of restaurant, you enjoy visiting? Why?

A Tapas Wine Bar – Lots of different wines with each glass being accompanied by a small bite of something fresh and innovative. I think this is a good way to enjoy food and wine – little and often!

Your ideal dinner party guest. Just one. Tell me why you chose him.

My long suffering friend Paul Flynn because he knows me better than myself, laughs at all my jokes, has the wit of the Irish, spins a good story and is crazy about excellent food and wine. Also, he doesn’t mind washing up at the end of the night – providing there’s a bottle of something decent open…

South Africa’s West Coast

Your favourite holiday destination?

West Coast, South Africa.

What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?

A book on Pruning Techniques, written by two Italians and a recent copy of The Economist.

One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island?

Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin.

I’m currently working on….

Being a better person.

My favourite weekend getaway is….

With the Mrs (not married)…. Somewhere rustic and comfortable.

Dark Chocolate

Guilty Pleasures?

Dark Chocolate and a glass of milk.

One day, I will….

No longer exist…!!

How can a visitor contact your winery?

Telephone: +27 28 316 4994

Email: orders@7springs.co.za

Website: 7springs.co.za

 

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