5 minutes with Isabel Teubes, The Nederburg Viticulturist…

Isabel Teubes, The Nederburg Viticulturist

What was the defining moment in your life that set you on the path of becoming a viticulturist?
I grew up on a wine farm situated on the banks of the Olifants River, near Vredendal, and have been actively involved in farm activities relating to winemaking and viticulture since the age of 10. So no, there was never one defining moment, rather a series of them that spans my entire life!

Where did you train?
The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) – I studied Agriculture.

Well known Viticulturist Jaco Potgieter

Who would you regard as your mentor?
My father, who has a wealth of knowledge about viticulture and is quite innovative when it comes to farming practices (he taught me a lot of what I know), and my mother, who is our biggest supporter. Jaco Potgieter, my mentor with whom I have had the privilege of working with for the past five years. He always has a smile on his face and friendly anecdotes. He has taught me so much about the South African wine industry.

What do you enjoy most about being a viticulturist?
The fact that each vintage is unique. Every harvest comes with its own set of opportunities and challenges, allowing me to learn and adapt all the time. Also, South Africa has such a diverse landscape with so much potential for more vineyard plantings, which makes it interesting.

Water Stewardship – Nederburg is a WWF Conservation Champion

What vineyard practices do you use to minimise the impact on the environment?
Nederburg was granted WWF Conservation Champion status earlier this year, thanks to its far-reaching water stewardship measures that address ways to improve water quality, balance, access, usage and so forth. To begin the effective water stewardship process required investment in sophisticated water consumption measurement tools so we could calculate precisely the impact of its cover crops planted in and amongst the vineyards, the wider application of drought-resistant rootstocks, the greater use of water-stress deficit irrigation, the use of pressure bombs to measure leaf water respiration, the move towards night irrigation, as well as the introduction of several climate-resilient Mediterranean varietals.

Do you have any specific wine grape varieties you prefer working with, and if so, what is its special characteristics?
I have a big passion for Cabernet Sauvignon. The resulting wine tends to be full-bodied, complex, fruit forward and very food-friendly.

Cabernet Sauvignon in the hands of the harvester

As a viticulturist, what are the biggest challenges you must face in your role?
Being a female in a historically male-dominated industry comes with a unique set of challenges. In certain instances, I have found that I needed to work a lot harder and smarter to carve out my place. That said, the industry is evolving and the hard work that I’ve put in, has strengthened me both personally and professionally.

Please give us a brief overview of the 2020 harvest and what consumers can expect from the Nederburg 2020 vintage.
What stands out for me, is the cooler weather at the start of the season. The analysis of the white grapes of the 2020 harvest was extremely good, very beneficial to the aging of these wines.The other highlight was the long hanging-time of the red varieties. Due to early veraison, the red grapes ripened at a slower rate than usual and we can pick it up in the colour and fruit intensity of the reds of this vintage.

A Nederburg Wine – a Cabernet Sauvignon, Isabel’s favourite wine grape

Do you have a favourite wine– of course you do, which one? And what draws you to it?
I appreciate any well-made wine, fully understanding the hard work that goes into producing these.

What is the one thing that you never expected, but have learned during your career as a viticulturist?
Mother Nature is in control. Wine keeps you honest and humble in life.

What was your fondest wine moment?
I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to travel abroad and explore different wine cultures. My fondest wine moment was enjoying Pinot Noir while I was working the Russian River region of Sonoma Valley, California, USA.

Your greatest bottle of wine ever?
Réserve de la Comtesse 1990, Pauillac (Bordeaux).

Do you enjoy cooking to show your wines off at their best or do you leave that to others? If yes what do you enjoying cooking most?
I would rather leave it to the professional chefs but I enjoy hosting and preparing seafood or an informal braai complimenting my choice of wine.

What is your favourite style of food?
Seafood is my absolute favourite type of food!

Yummy Seafood Platter

Your best style of restaurant, you enjoy visiting? Why?
I enjoy visiting restaurants with a scenic view and warm ambiance, that serve up good food and fine wine.

Your ideal dinner party guest.
Someone who shares the same passion and love for wine as I have.

Your favourite holiday destination?
Various California wine regions.

Built to Last author Jim Collins

What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
Built to Last by Jim Collins.

One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island.
I love music for the 1980s.

I’m currently working on….
Adapting to the realities brought on by Covid-19.

The West Coast, South Africa

My favourite weekend getaway is….
Definitely the West Coast, where I’m from.

Guilty pleasures?
Sneaking off for a spa treatment. Watching Netflix series.

Black Angus Cattle

One day, I will….
Own a Black Angus cattle farm.

How can a visitor contact your winery?
Contact Nederburg on 021 862 3104 or send an e-mail to info@nederburg.com.

Read more about Nederburg Wines – CLICK HERE

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