New winemakers for South Africa’s only certified biodynamic wine estate

Thursday, 26 May, 2022
Reyneke Wines
Reyneke Wines has appointed Barbara Melck as winemaker and Armand Esterhuizen as assistant winemaker.

Vinimark’s Rudiger Gretschel remains at the helm as cellarmaster, with owner and viticulturist Johan Reyneke continuing his involvement in the biodynamic and organic cultivation of the farm’s crop – and both will continue to support the new duo in maintaining the Reyneke Wines estate’s focus on quality and sustainability.

Barbara Melck, winemaker at Reyneke Wines

Melck has served as assistant winemaker for Vinimark since July 2016, working across various estates, including Twee Jonge Gezellen. She completed her BSc in Viticulture and Enology at Stellenbosch University, followed by time working at Simonsig, Rupert & Rothschild, Wind Gap and Morgenhof.

Esterhuizen has experience of working at Simonsig, Waterford Estate, Glen Carlou, and Benguela Cove before joining Reyneke Wines having also completed his BSc in Viticulture and Enology at Stellenbosch University. He likens his role as Assistant Winemaker to a blending component in a wine that ensures smoothness. “Whether it is the winemaker, operations manager, cellar team or anyone else involved with Reyneke that needs assistance, I’m the person,” he says. “I see myself as Barbara’s left hand – she uses her right hand to taste wine so that role is already filled!” 

Armand Esterhuizen, assistant winemaker at Reyneke Wines

With Reyneke having developed an impressive global following for its meticulous biodynamic approach and multi-awarded wines, Melck doesn’t see the need to tweak the way things work in its Polkadraai Hills cellar. “I would like to believe that I am rather more informed by the environment in which the grapes are grown, than a particular style,” she says. “I do believe that as a winemaker, you can never stop learning and adapting. That always keeps me willing to adapt to the seasons and environments that I encounter. I also am a strong believer in gut instinct and trusting your initial judgement”.

Working with nature, not against it

She was attracted to biodynamic and organic winemaking by the respect required for the entire process. “When you farm this way, you have a different kind of respect for the soil, the land, the vines, people and the environment. You learn to think about this differently and to respect the natural way things are. Working with nature instead of against it,” she says.

Speaking about the wines, Melck says that she doesn’t have a favourite amongst the varietals produced by Reyneke, because each is so unique.

“The Sauvignon Blanc is unique in the amount of texture that we get paired with the low pH. The Chenin has this brightness and life to it - the sunshine child, if you must. The Syrah is wild, but graceful at the same time. The Cabernet Franc has this amazing litheness and freshness to it. Cabernet Sauvignon always has a wonderful density and gravitas, while still maintaining pure fruit. The best thing about all these grapes is that each vineyard is unique and has its own characteristics. I truly look forward to getting to know the Reyneke vineyards a lot better,” she says.

Barbara Melck & Armand Esterhuizen
Barbara Melck & Armand Esterhuizen

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