Like the pioneer Douglas Green after which this iconic winery was named, Jaco believes that relationships are an integral part of the industry, and he has built many lasting ones with producers and other stakeholders in his search for the grapes that have given Douglas Green its reputation of consistent excellence among South African consumers.
Jaco grew up in the small Klein Karoo town of Barrydale, but it was not until his student days at Stellenbosch University that the wine bug bit. After obtaining his BSc Viticulture and Oenology degree, he spent many years honing his winemaking skills in the Breedekloof Valley. His favourite part of the process is blending, because he says, it enables one to take the best components and characteristics of each cultivar and region and merge them into a harmonious whole – a wine that people will enjoy and remember. And that is a pillar of Jaco’s winemaking philosophy, to make wines that the consumer enjoys and that bring friends and loved ones together.
When he is not in the cellar, you’ll probably find this gregarious people’s person spending time at the coast. More specifically, the West Coast town of Yzerfontein where he fishes as often as his busy schedule allows. And of course, he loves to enjoy his daily catch with a glass of ice-cold Douglas Green white wine, soaking up the sights and sounds of the sea.
Jaco also enjoys travelling, and his most treasured wine memory is visiting the famous Winelands of Alsace and the Loire Valley in France. There, he says, wine is a way of life, a culture we can truly aspire to emulate in the local industry. And all the more reason he is proud to be associated with a brand that has been a trusted favourite for multiple generations of wine lovers in South Africa.
Jaco kindly answered some questions from me, which tell us more about him.
What was the defining moment in your life that set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?
” Harvest time in Barrydale. It was very special to go to the cellar with my dad during harvest time. I can still remember the smell of juice and ferment.”
Where did you train to become a winemaker?
“University of Stellenbosch “
Who would you regard as your mentor?
“There were a few people whom each built a part of my career. Prof Joel van Wyk and Prof Orffer laid the base and winemakers like Gunter Brozel, Abel Carstens and Dassie Smith taught me the small but important detail of winemaking.”
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?
“I would like to work more with Malbec.”
Is there another wine you would like to make in your cellar with the varieties available to you there?
“I am feeling more and more to make a top-quality Blanc de Noir from Pinotage. “
You seem to be quite innovative with new wine styles – what leads you there?
“Most of the time, it is something you picked up from the consumer or in discussions with other winemakers.”
If you could choose anywhere in the world to make wine other than where you are now, where would it be?
“Alsace and Loire! “
And what grape type would you use?
“Rhine Riesling and Chenin Blanc.”
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?
“I have a special soft spot for the Douglas Green Chardonnay.”
Your greatest bottle of wine ever, and you can’t say one of your own!
“A 1989 vintage Barolo which I enjoyed in Piedmont.”
What is your favourite style of food?
“Seafood, any kind of seafood. “
Kobus van der Westhuizen at work in his Paternoster Kitchen
Your best style of restaurant you enjoy visiting? Why?
“Small, cosy restaurant. There are a few in the West Coast.”
Your ideal dinner party guest. Just one. Tell me why you chose them.
”My wife, she enjoys and appreciates a good evening out. “
Your favourite holiday destination?
“Kagalagadi National Park”
One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island?
“Gone fishing of Chris Rea “
I’m currently working on….my administration skills!!
My favourite weekend getaway is….somewhere in the Karoo or mountains
“Would love to do Africa Burn each year, Seafood.”
One day I will….take the time to visit all the amazing places in SA.
How can a visitor contact your winery?
Telephone 021 8645300