Winemaker on journey to produce SA ’icon’
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Cape Town - In honouring her family and descendants, Berene Sauls has marshalled all available resources and is now embarking on land ownership and having her own vineyards and cellar.
From Tesselaarsdal, a quiet community of almost 2 000 people, Sauls, under mentorship from Emul Erasmus, launched her Maiden Vintage in 2015.
High in the mountains of the Western Cape’s Overberg region, Tesselaarsdal is barely on the map and is so hidden that 230 years of South African history have completely passed it by.
The community developed from nine original families who received the land after the death of Johannes and Aaltje Tesselaar.
Under the terms of the Tesselaars' joint will, the farm, Harteebeestrivier, was left to their former servants and their descendants.
In remembering her benefactors, Sauls named her wine Tesselaarsdal.
She started work at Hamilton Russel Vineyards in 2001, where Anthony Hamilton Russell quickly noticed there was something unique about her.
Her drive and curiosity promptly led her to get deeply involved with all aspects of the farm and she assisted in the cellar, helped with exports, and managed sales in the tasting room.
In 2014 Hamilton Russell approached Sauls and asked if she would like to try her hand at winemaking and her answer was “yes, please!”
Under mentorship from Emul Erasmus, the winemaker at Hamilton Russell, Berene Sauls launched her Maiden Vintage in 2015.
Asked what the first hard lesson was that she learnt during her early days as a winemaker, Sauls said: “Do not expect what you don’t inspect in terms of timing, planning and delivery.”
She said she enjoys seeing first hand how each vintage develops into its own character.
“The wine style remains the same since the maiden vintage in 2015, my winemaking style is expressive of site, soil and climate.”
Now in its 6th vintage, Tesselaarsdal Wines continues to make strides, both locally and on the international market.
Greg Sherwood, a Master of Wine, referred to it as the “Next South African Pinot Noir icon”.