Paul’s father, a Frenchman who escaped the German army marching on St Malo in 1940, opened a restaurant in Stockport, England, following the end of World War II. The restaurant was based on the French model of having the mother at the front of the house and the kids peeling potatoes as soon as they were old enough. But Paul was not keen on this, and fell into the wine trade after a less-than-brilliant scholastic career.
Following a classic apprenticeship in the UK wine trade in the early 1970s, Paul launched his own wine import business in 1980. Many years later, his business is still one of the leaders in the fine wine sector. Paul has built a thriving business by doing things differently. His private investment in Waterkloof is not that of the archetypical foreign-based lifestyle investor, but rather as a hands-on dedicated entrepreneur-cum-winemaker. It is his desire to consistently produce truly fine wines with a defining sense of origin.
Nadia grew up in the Stellenbosch region with its omnipresent vineyards and was introduced to the wine culture and lifestyle from a very young age. Her career choice came natural and Nadia followed her dream of becoming a winemaker and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture (BSc Agric) specialising in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. The pursuit of quality winemaking saw her working for small family-owned wineries in Australia, New Zealand and France before a combination of destiny and good judgment brought her back to South Africa and ultimately to Waterkloof Estate in 2009 – when she joined the winemaking team for their maiden vintage in its new state-of-the-art gravitational cellar. Nadia is very much a nature lover and therefore likes the natural winemaking philosophies which are practiced at Waterkloof.
Christiaan joined the team in 2004 as vineyard manager and helped to turn the 120 hectare farm into a biodiversity champion. Since his promotion to farm manager, he has taken charge of the farm’s conventional and biodynamic vineyard practices, as well as its biodiversity and wine initiative. Part of his duties include looking after the 200 hectare indigenous Renosterveld in the surrounding area. Christiaan has a great love for nature conservation and farming in general, but his true passion is training and riding horses, one both he and his wife share. In 2008, Christiaan introduced their first Percheron horse to the wine estate’s vineyards to aid their biodynamic practice. On his off days he enjoys mucking out stables with his wife or training the horses to use new implements.
Jacques’ introduction to the wine industry did not start with a glass of wine, but rather from a very young age accompanying his father to the site meetings of some of South Africa’s top wineries. “I have fond memories of running between tanks and getting rides on the forklift at Flagstone Winery, when they were still situated at the V&A Waterfront. I was thus able to decide very early in school that I wanted to be in the wine industry and – after speaking to some of the top winemakers in the country about where to go for my training – I finally decided on Elsenburg Agricultural College.” After graduation, Jacques completed his first vintage at Flagstone, where it all began. In the years to follow, he added Jordan Estate, Tokara Estate, Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore Maryland, Steenberg Vineyards and Joostenberg to his resume before joining Waterkloof in January 2012. “I’m so excited to have joined Waterkloof and its amazing team of talented and knowledgeable people,” he says. “I have a real love for our natural winemaking process. It’s hard work, but so much more rewarding and a true expression of what we have here.” In his spare time, Jacques enjoys mountain biking, surf skiing and a good braai with mates.
Cape Town-born Claudia thanks her lucky stars for accidentally entering the wine business after completing a BA Honours degree in Political Science. She started her career in a wine tasting centre, but eventually gained valuable management experience in every facet of the sales and marketing process. It’s knowledge she makes use of every day.
“The wine industry is a fascinating, yet complex and intricate trade with many diverse personalities and perplexing situations,” Claudia says. She loves living in breathtakingly beautiful Stellenbosch, surrounded by ancient oak trees, impressive mountains and bounteous vineyards. She embraces the industry she works in and incorporates good food and wine into her life. “Most people wait for a special occasion to enjoy the good things in life. I get to enjoy it almost every day. I tell myself constantly: Claudia, you’re a lucky, lucky girl…”
Whether dusting bottles in a shop, scrubbing barrels in a Spanish bodega or travelling the world selling wine, Louis’ passion for all things vinous is unquestionable and with a surname like Boutinot, unsurprising. Having worked in wine retail, export sales and as a cellar rat, he firmly believes that working in such diverse sectors of the industry will stand him in good stead as he embarks on his “dream job” (if you can call it a job) with Waterkloof.
What kind of wines does he enjoy? “Those which have a real sense of place, which reveal a little more of themselves and their origin with each sip from the glass, ones that take you on an adventure: that’s worth every penny you pay for it!”
Apart from wine and the food, and the friends and family that go with it, he enjoys taking part in a wide range of sports, including tennis and cricket, and is relishing the prospect of pursuing his interest in wildlife whilst in South Africa.
After studying Public Relations at Stellenbosch College, Sonja joined a well-known wine cellar in Stellenbosch. Valuable experience over two years set her path onto the wonderful world of wine. Eager to learn more, Sonja accepted a position as Wine Tasting Centre Manager at an established winery on the Stellenbosch Wine Route. Over a period of seven years, she specialised in big tour groups, corporate functions, weddings, conferences and general public relations. Her passion for wine and the tourism industry kept growing in leaps and bounds. However, the birth of her son, Luke, and responsibilities at home caused her to take a three year break from the wine industry. Today, Sonja is back with a vengeance! She joined Waterkloof in March 2009 to head up the Tasting Centre. Her goal in life is to educate people through wine tasting, to create a better understanding of wines and, ultimately, a better appreciation. In her own words: “I want to ignite a passion in people.” Sonja has an unsurpassed zest for life and embraces every day with new energy.
Growing up in the heart of Cape Town, her love for wine and warmth for people lead her to working part time at a prestigious wine estate in Stellenbosch, whilst completing her studies in Computer Programming. Programming was simply too dull for this extrovert, so Georgia moved into the retail clothing business, planning stock, budgets and dealing with customers and stores which suited her vibrant personality much better.
Family commitments relocated Georgia to Gauteng, and she was once more able to shift her focus back to something she was most passionate about - wine.
She has been Waterkloof’s Gauteng Representative since 2010 and says… ”Although some customers are easily persuaded to purchase wine, I take pride in the fact that I sell top notch, unique, natural Waterkloof Wines, with eco-conscious philosophies. This keeps me motivated and makes my job that much easier!”
Born in Burgundy, France, Gregory spent his childhood travelling around the world with his family. After living in more than twelve different countries, including South Africa, he finally settled back in France to become an apprenti and learn the art of cooking in classical gastronomic restaurants in Cote d’Or, Burgundy. He moved to Paris in 2003 and worked for some of the most prestigious restaurants in the French capital. Gregory always knew he wanted to live South Africa one day, and true to this desire, he returned in 2008 to marry Michelle, a physiotherapist who he met more than ten years ago. With his French heritage, wine is an integral part of Gregory’s culture. He is committed to the fundamental basics of classic cooking methods and believes cooking is all about using the six senses simultaneously – the last being that instinctive ability to create just the right flavour and texture combinations and integrating that with the ultimate wine combination.
Anneke grew up on a farm in the Robertson district, where her father also made wine. Growing up on a farm with two rivers running through it afforded opportunities to live with nature that few people have. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of the smell of freshly plowed soil and the sight of white egrets swooping in behind the horse and plow to feast on worms and insects; of cold winter mornings when Merino ewes nurse their new-born lambs. They are also of the sounds and smells of harvest time in the cellar, of tasting grape must of red wine made in open-topped cement tanks. Anneke studied art after school and worked as an artist before returning to her roots in the wine industry, working in the export department of a medium-sized winery in the Paarl region for almost ten years. When the opportunity presented itself to join the passionate team at Waterkloof, she could not resist the lure of the farm and the beautiful surroundings of the Schaapenberg. Anneke is married and has three daughters.
A devoted family man and proud Christian, Jafta is an exceptional example to family and friends and, of course, his fellow Waterkloof employees. Prior to joining the Waterkloof team in 2005 as vineyard manager, Jafta assisted numerous wine estates in the Stellenbosch and Somerset West region with the up keeping of their vines. Jafta, who was recently promoted to maintenance manager, ensures a hassle free day for all at Waterkloof and there is not a thing he cannot fix. Other passions include being involved in the community and tinkering with cars. He has great people skills, which gives him his very positive work ethic, despite working under a sometimes very brutal summer sun.
Eugene Louw was born in Kwa-Zulu Natal, but was raised in Strand, a scenic coastal town overlooking False Bay, close to Waterkloof. After graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Accountancy from the University of Stellenbosch, he moved to the small town of Caledon. While there, he completed his articles and received his Honours Degree in Accountancy.
His love for the Helderberg region with its beautiful mountain range and sea views made him return to the Strand shortly thereafter. Eugene’s introduction to the wine industry was as an assistant accountant at a wine estate in Paarl. There, he realised that one could combine a love for numbers and figures with a love for beautiful surroundings. In his spare time, Eugene makes the most of the great outdoors. He goes rowing and diving for crayfish, plays golf with friends and ends most evenings with a braai at home.
Eugene is married to Gerda, a primary school teacher. They live by the sea and live the dream, taking regular walks on the beach and watching the sun set over False Bay.
Born and raised in Upington, Charlotte’s first encounter with the wine industry was next to the Orange River. There she worked for a wine co-operative as an assistant bookkeeper for ten years. After her loyal years of service, she decided to spread her wings and relocate to Cape Town. This also marked a career change. She became an Information Technology consultant, where she offered support to the agricultural industry, specialising in soft fruit warehousing.
However, when the opportunity presented itself, Charlotte grabbed the chance to return to the wine industry. She is currently the Assistant Accountant at Waterkloof and is loving every minute of it. Charlotte is inspired by her beautiful surroundings every day, she loves the great outdoors and spends every free minute running marathons, going for mountain hikes, or just strolling along the beach.