5 minutes with Johan Delport, Winemaker at Waverley Hills…

Johan Delport, Winemaker at Waverley Hills

What was the defining moment in your life that set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?
The long version – When I was 5 years old, I took a sip of my father’s wine glass and after that I said I want to be a winemaker. The wine was a Slanghoek Stein. After that I wanted to become a lot of other things before I decided on winemaking.

Short version – I always wanted to be involved in agriculture and the idee of creating something out of a bunch of grapes interest me.

A vintage photograph of Elsenburg

Where did you train to become a winemaker?
Elsenburg, Stellenbosch

Who would you regard as your mentor?
There is no single person that stands out. From early in my career I was working on my own, without a senior winemaker as a mentor. There are a few winemakers whose opinion I have held in high regards over the years, like Abe Krige, Hilko Hegewisch and Charles Hopkins.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the hands of the harvester

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?
Not really. Although I would have liked to had more opportunists working with cold climate Sauvignon Blanc.

Is there another wine you would like to make in your cellar with the varieties available to you there?
I don’t think so. Maybe if there were more possibilities to work on different blends with the available varieties.

You seem to be quite innovative with new wine styles – what leads you there?
It is about having a passion for winemaking and to experiment. I also believe you need to be exposed to wines from different regions all over the world. That also triggers one’s interest in being innovative.

Chateauneuf vineyard & castle

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

And what grape type would you use?
I like to work with the Southern Rhône and Mediterranean grapes

Waverley Hills Grenache Noir,  Johan Delport made the first organic one in the Cape

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 Waverley Hills Grenache is always a favourite for me. Also the two flagship blends, i.e. Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet franc/Merlot.

Your greatest bottle of wine ever? [And you can’t say one of your own!]
For me it has always been more about the occasion than the wine. If I think about a few occasions I can remember that I had memorable wines, it must include the following. Can’t remember the exact vintages. Jean Louis Chave Hermitage, Taylors Port, Opus One, Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage, Bodega Garzon, Whalehaven Pinot Noir, Deetlefs Semillon, Domaine Attilon

What is your favourite style of food?
I like experimenting with different types of cheeses and cold meats.

Your best style of restaurant, you enjoy visiting? Why?
Depends on the occasion. It could be anything from a Tapas style restaurant, to a proper Argentinian style steakhouse, or a pizza joint. I also really like German food. As long as the food is good.

Your ideal dinner party guest. Just one. Tell me why you chose them.
My 12 year old son. He always makes me laugh.


Your favourite holiday destination?
Locally – Garden Route, Internationally – Greek Islands

What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
The only book I always have on my bedside table is the Bible.

One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island?
Living on a Prayer, by Bon Jovi.

I’m currently working on…. Getting through every day.

West Coast South Africa

My favourite weekend getaway is….
Any quiet beach on the West Coast

Guilty Pleasures?
Spending too much on good wine.

One day, I will….like to think I made a difference.

Waverley Hills

How can a visitor contact your winery?

Telephone 023-2310002
Email info@waverleyhills.co.za
Website www.waverleyhills.co.za


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