Q&A with Our Assistant Winemaker Jerome van Rooi

We asked Jerome, who was born and raised in Citrusdal, a few interesting questions and here is what he had to say…

When did you first become interested in becoming a winemaker?

My career took a turn when my father introduced me to David Nieuwoudt. David gave me the opportunity to work in his cellar at Cederberg Wines as a general cellar worker.

The best decision I made in my career was to start working for David. During this time I also met Tammy and Alex Nel, who introduced me to the term “attention to detail” in winemaking; Tammy was my mentor when it came to red wine.

My first harvest was in 2016 alongside Jean Nel, who was at that time an intern (currently the winemaker at Cederberg Wines), and when the first Chardonnay grapes came in, I found my love for winemaking.

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

The year 2022 was one of the highest and most significant moments of my career; I was promoted to junior assistant winemaker, and the same year, I won the Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year award.

After winning the award, I got the opportunity to travel to any wine region in the world of my choosing, and I chose Portugal as my wine region. I went to Setubal, where I harvested under the winemaker Domingos Sergios in his cellar, Jose Marie du Francesco.

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

Being able to learn from David and Jean, as well as being given the opportunity to produce my own wine with just a small batch of grapes, which is also a winemaking opportunity to motivate the youth that there are always opportunities and not just to stop at being a cellar worker.

What are the fundamentals of your winemaking approach?

It is hard work, art, and dedication of every person, from planting grapes and selecting grapes harvested, to blending and tasting the perfect wine to put in the bottle. 

What are your personal winemaking goals?

My wine may be released in 2024, a step closer to starting my own wine brand. The team (viticulturist, winemakers, vineyard and cellar workers) is passionate about its work, which motivates me, making me love working at Cederberg wines.

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