Delaire Graff Wine Estate is luxury Stellenbosch Wine and Hospitality destination. Wonderful wines, great food, the most luxurious lodge accommodation. a spa and one of the most spectacular views. A place like this works well because of the great staff that work n the various departments. Elias gave me 5 minutes of his time to talk….
What was the motivation for you to become a sommelier? Tell us how it all happened.
Starting off as a kitchen porter as Delaire had just opened in 2009, I admired the calm and well composed front of house sommeliers. I would see them on chef table swirling around the glass and give it a sniff and then they start talking about the wine in depth. It was quite intriguing and fascinating as it was stuff that I would only see in the movies back when I was in Zimbabwe. A bell rang in my mind and I said to myself I can also be that person. As months passed by there was an internal post of Barman position and without any knowledge on spirits, I took my chance and applied with confidence. I eventually got the position and got into the hands of the head sommelier as my mentor, he gave books to study and I did my best. I then enrolled through cape wine academy and studied till the cape wine certificate. The managers saw potential in me and they moved me to the floor as a waiter, I used that as a stepping stone as I was going to build confidence in dealing with guest. Being a waiter never stopped me from pursuing my dream to become what I really was passionate about “wine”. As years went by I started doing my WSET course and together with my food knowledge, I was confident I enough to recommend food and wine to guests. I worked hard and sometimes on my off days, I would come to work and shield and assist on wine service up until the opportunity of assistant sommelier came and grabbed it with open arms. Within a year the Head sommelier left and I applied for the position as Head sommelier, my managers were confident and believed in me then I got the current position I am fulfilling now.
What has been the biggest surprise about your career as a sommelier?
Being a Sommelier at one of the best vineyards in Southern Africa on a Relais & Chateaux Property, as well as getting to build connections and the privilege of meeting the rich and famous.
And then you became a public face of Delaire Graff Wines on the Estate. How did that happen?
I kept my head up high, kept on pushing with a positive mind and enthusiasm.
What gives you the most pleasure of working at Delaire Graff?
I love the fact that in my department, we work as a family and my managers are always willing to help and build my career and together with the whole team, we share knowledge and uplift each other.
Which five words best describe you?
Humble, Courteous, Charismatic, Dedicated and Hardworking.
What are five things you can’t live without?
Love, Family,Hope, Food, Reading
What is your favourite meal to make in 30 minutes, which Delaire Graff wine would you pair with it, and why?
Beautifully Sunday roasted chicken with sautéed herb, lemon and garlic vegetables (carrots, green beans, butternut, bell peppers and mushrooms) enjoyed with an elegant glass of Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Chardonnay 2018. No wine is able to spoil the enjoyment of a good roasted bird; the toasty edge of this wine compliments perfectly the crispy chicken skin and the beautiful well balanced acidity to compliments the lemon and herb vegetables and uplifts all elements of the table.
What is your funniest work memory?
In my early food and wine pairing experiences, I was keen to try everything. One day I was blown away by the term Escargot and I had a delicious dish prepared by the chef. Afterwards I asked Chef what was an Escargot only to be told it was a land snail, immediately my stomach started turning as it was something I had never imagined eating.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would choose to fly like a bird and avoid transport cost so that I can cover a lot of wine farms and absorb as much information as I can. And of cause regular seasonal movement, north and south.
Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2017
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 Delaire Graff Botmaskop
Your greatest bottle of wine ever?
It was a 2013 Waldweben from 4G winery.
What are your interests beyond wine? How do you spend your time relaxing?
I watch TV mostly BBC life style, National Geographic and Animal Planet.
What is your favourite style of food?
Your best style of restaurant, you enjoy visiting? Why?
I enjoy family style restaurants as that’s the only time I can spare to catch up with my family and relax due to the long hours I spend at work.
Your ideal dinner party guest. Just one. Tell me why you chose them.
A friend that appreciates all the finer and detailed things in life, food, wine and ambience. I choose them so as to share views and thoughts.
What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
The Wine Dine Dictionary by Victoria Moore.
One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island?
Chill R&B soul
I’m currently working on….
I’m currently working on my Court of Master Sommelier.
My favourite weekend getaway is….
Hemel en Aarde Valley.
Having a glass of wine while taking a hot bath after a long day at work.
One day, I will….
Be an owner of a wine bar.
How can a visitor contact your winery?
Telephone:021 885 8160
Click www.delaire.co.za to read more about the Estate and its fabulous wines and award winning hospitality offerings.