Solms-Delta appoints new young winemaker - Hagen Viljoen

Wednesday, 7 November, 2012
Solms-Delta Wine Estate
Landmark Franschhoek wine estate Solms-Delta has appointed dynamic young winemaker Hagen Viljoen as head of its winemaking.
Stellenbosch BSc Agriculture graduate Viljoen has had extensive experience of wine making in Australia, California, France and New Zealand, and at the Cape, where he was based at Zevenwacht before joining Solms-Delta.

Solms-Delta, 15km outside Franschhoek, is renowned for its classical wines with a difference, and its pioneering leadership in social reform, empowerment and innovation within the South African wine industry.
Hagen Viljoen succeeds Hilko Hegewisch whose contract ended in October, after overseeing the wine-making on the farm since the 2004 vintage.

In thanking Hegewisch for his role in reintroducing winemaking at this historic estate, Solms-Delta’s CEO Craig MacGillivray said he was very pleased to welcome Viljoen, who he was confident would be a valuable addition to the existing wine production team, with his extensive and varied international experience.

Viljoen, who joins highly respected viticulturist Rosa Kruger and assistant winemaker Maria Botha on the Solms-Delta team, is an enthusiastic vintner, steeped in the art (and also married to another winemaker). “For me, winemaking is about translating the potential of the vineyards in a manner that respects the integrity of the fruit, reflects its origin and ultimately expresses its uniqueness and balance in the wine itself,” he says. Viljoen joins the estate as the new vintages of Solms-Delta Hiervandaan 2010, Africana 2011 and Koloni 2011 are being released. All of these wines are produced from grapes desiccated on the vine, or with desiccated components. Welcoming Viljoen, Mark Solms said, ‘We are looking forward to the contribution that his youthful passion and obvious intelligence will bring to our wines.’

The estate offers nine leading wines in two ranges, Solms-Delta and Solms-Astor, the former with varying quantities of desiccated (vine clamped and dried) grapes to create wines with different intensities and distinctive styles. In keeping with the estate’s heritage, all the wines have names that resonate with its history. There are six wines in the Solms-Delta range, consisting almost entirely of Rhône varietals. Two wines in this range, Africana and Koloni, are made exclusively from desiccated grapes. These are intense, concentrated wines. Solms-Delta Gemoedsrus, introduced in July 2009, is a highly innovative elaboration on the theme of European ‘port’ wine. It is barrel-matured, desiccated Shiraz, fortified with husk spirit (grappa) made from the same desiccated bunches.

The Solms-Astor range of three wines consists mainly of unusual Cape blends and is inspired by the traditional folk music of the rural Cape.

Solms-Delta’s return to fortune began when Mark Solms assumed custodianship of the 320-year-old farm with a vision that went much deeper than re-establishing its vineyards and cellars. He also wanted to do something about the legacy of his European forebears who had settled in the Cape six generations before, and help tackle the urgent social and economic problems facing South Africa today.

The Solms-Astor range celebrates the partnership between Mark Solms and Richard Astor, a British philanthropist. Each controls one third of the modern-day Delta estate and they have, together, faced up to the social realities of South African agriculture with characteristic enthusiasm.

They established a trust that benefits the estate’s historically disadvantaged residents and employees, to whom they gave a one-third equity stake in Solms-Delta. From the profits, they now occupy refurbished and comfortable homes and benefit from various social programmes that have greatly improved their health, education and general quality of life.