Q&A with Gwen Marais, One Of Our Winemakers

We asked Gwen Marais a few interesting questions, and here is what she had to say…

When did you first become interested in becoming a winemaker?

At the very wise age of 15, when choosing the correct school subjects to build my future, indecision led me to a very long aptitude test (I remember because I forgot to pack lunch). The most surprising result of the lot was winemaking. As I come from a family of farmers in the Sutherland-Karoo who later migrated to the Garden Route, I didn’t even know it was a thing. So, I did a little research, and after reading the first bit on fermentation, my brain has been set on winemaking ever since.

What is your most memorable wine or wine-tasting experience?

I have the privilege to say that there is a variety of those in my memory bank. However, in my final year at Elsenburg, we were fortunate enough to go on a wine tour to France, where 10 of us won a lucky draw and had the insane privilege of meeting Madame Pichon in her home in Bordeaux. Besides her exquisite glass collection and mind-baffling cellar, her presence and knowledge are fuel for passion.

On that day, she shared a sentiment I cherish deeply: “If you keep quiet, you will always doubt if you are wrong or right, but when you share, you have the opportunity to learn. Even when you do not like someone or a situation, there is always something useful to take away”.

What do you enjoy best about being a winemaker at Cederberg Wines?

I can’t complain about the view! The coolest part for me is the interesting climate that Cederberg and Ghost Corner vines endure. Even though we vinify them the same way, we end up with vastly different wines because the grapes have such a strong sense of place. It’s just a treat in general to work with healthy grapes. Dirk does a phenomenal job!

What are the fundamentals of your winemaking approach?

Trust your gut and see it through!

What are your personal winemaking goals?

To pursue making wine in the most sustainable and “natural” way without compromising on quality and quantity (big ask here). It is possible, and Cederberg is a pretty good step in that direction. Vinification from the get-go requires human intervention, and I like to intervene in a way that enhances the environment, is kind to the consumer and tastes like a good time!

What is your favourite food and wine pairing?

I will skip the fancy stuff because there are enough posh food and wine pairings out there. I’m sticking to my Friday night go-to and overall motto in life: anything as long as there is Pizza!

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