Andrea Freeborough head winemaker at Fleur du Cap was chosen as ‘South Africa Woman Winemaker of the Year’ in 2010.
‘Is that not a tad sexist ?’, I asked when we met at Dublin’s Dylan Hotel.
‘I suppose you could say that, but you must also remember that the South African wine industry is heavily male-dominated. We women winemakers are in a small minority, so this competition helps us to confirm our identity’.
So- is there a competition for black wine-makers ?
‘No- we have very few black people in the wine-making side of the industry. But the number is growing and will grow further as more black people go through the educational system.’
The ‘Woman Winemaker of the Year’ gong was awarded for Andrea’s exceptional 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest which won three gold medals in London. ‘They changed the rules this year. Instead of interviews, the award was made for the best wine submitted to a blind tasting’, she says.
Late harvest wine is a niche product in South Africa as it is in most of the world’s wine regions and in everyday life Andrea is concerned with making the Fleur du Cap whites and reds from 17,000 tonnes of grapes grown for the company by 45 contracted farmers. ‘We set high standards of quality and our viticulturalists ensure that the grapes are grown and nurtured according to our specifications’, she says.
From the very first vintage released in 1968, Fleur du Cap wines have been vinified, blended and aged at The Bergkelder, one of the most advanced underground cellars in the southern hemisphere built into the hillside of the Papegaaiberg. In 1979, the company began the maturation of quality wine in small casks of new French oak and in 1998 The Bergkelder launched the reserve range of Fleur du Cap Unfiltered wines. Each of the wines in the unfiltered range is made of grapes from a specific vineyard block or a blend of two vineyards. Owing to the traditional hands-on approach in the cellar, these wines are not filtered resulting in rich, complex wines that abound with fruit and flavour.