Bernard Claassen, winemaker, answers all our questions
How many years have you been in the wine industry?
My first harvest was in 2000 as a student, however, I have working permanently from 2005, thus a total of 15 years.
Why did you decide to become a winemaker?
I was hooked since my first sip of wine. It was so interesting, all unique smells and flavours that I picked up from that glass. I was curious about how it got there and I wanted to know more. I love nature and winemaking is one of a very few careers where you can take raw material (the grapes) and add your personality in the process to create a final product. It’s always a special experience to enjoy that final bottle with family and friends.
Your proudest moment while being a winemaker?
There have been so many, but the one that certainly stands out is when we received our first five star Platter rating.
Most memorable harvest and why?
The 2010 vintage for two reasons. It was my first vintage as senior winemaker at Stellenbosch Vineyards and the Chenin Blanc 2010 won a Double Gold at the Veritas awards!
What stood out for you in the 2020 harvest?
The harvest was larger than expected and the quality was very good. I am sure this will go down as one of the best quality vintages in South Africa over the past 20 years.
How do you relax in your off time?
I drive to the beach and spend time surfing or play a round of golf.
What career would you have chosen, if not winemaking?
A professional golfer, if I had the talent!
What is your favourite dish and what SV wine would you be enjoying with it?
Spicy Italian sausage, peppadews and avocado pizza with our Stellenbosch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. Simply delicious!
Do you prefer cork or screwcap?
Screwcap – it’s just easier.
What is your winemaking goal for the future?
To push the boundaries even more and in an unrelenting search to improve in my wines and ultimately one day create the perfect wine.