Frans Smit has harnessed more than three centuries of winemaking tradition to transform Spier into a top award-winning wine producer. ‘Respect what the vineyard hands you’ is our Cellar Master’s mantra. Having grown up on a grape farm in the Northern Cape, becoming master of the barrel was the next logical step. Besides exploring great wines, Frans enjoys wandering about in territories not even 4G can reach. He is a member of the esteemed Cape Winemakers Guild.
A man of few words, but many eloquent wines, Jacques made his first wine when he was just a kid, using Chenin Blanc grapes found on his parents’ farm near Worcester. At Spier, he now makes Chenin from 40-year-old Chenin vineyards, creating a wine in our 21 Gables range that has attracted a flock of golds. Jacques’s Creative Block 2 is another triumph in his quiver. A harmony of tastes and flavours, assembled from a handful of vineyard blocks, the 2014 vintage earned him the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award.
Johan loves to go walkabout, indulging his wanderlust, exploring new terroir and winemaking regions, and gathering insight into alternative approaches. His signature is big, voluminous wines ‘that make you stop and listen to the music the wine is making’. Johan was named Diners Club Winemaker of the Year in 2011 for his Creative Block 5 blend. When he’s not playing with the fruits of his barrels, he’ll be tearing up trails on his mountain bike, or gearing down on the golf course.
“My aim is to get the very best out of every site that Spier sources grapes from,” explains Bennie Liebenberg, Spier’s viticulturist. “What we do in the vineyard can significantly impact the wine’s ultimate quality.”
Bennie doesn’t have a favourite grape – the sheer diversity of the varietals in his care makes his job exciting. “Every area is different, and every cultivar is unique. I enjoy everything; I don’t get bored,” he says.
Tania Kleintjes joined Spier in 2007 and has been Spier’s organic winemaker since 2016. In this role, she oversees the organic winemaking process – from harvest, production to bottling – as well as managing accreditation and compliance.
“I want my wines to be an authentic and fulsome expression of terroir,” she says. “This means having a light touch in the cellar – I don’t believe in obsessively polishing or tinkering.”
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