Riding bulls and wrestling crocs: JC van Staden

Monday, 23 September, 2013
Winemaker profiles
JC van Staden was born and raised on a game farm in, Marken, Ellisras. Growing up, his family raised cattle and grew table grapes. He planted his first vineyard when he was 14 and still had time to be an excellent athlete, rugby player, and head of the student body at Ellisras High School.
Riding bulls, wrestling crocs and catching warthogs were normal activities on their farm but during a summer job at Robertson Winery at the age of nineteen, JC found his passion for winemaking. 
His first roadblock was when he failed to get chosen for the Viticulture and Oenology program at the University of Stellenbosch. Bowen Botha, then Cellar-Master for Robertson Winery, invited him back with the promise to teach him everything he would need to know about wine and winemaking.

His dream to produce the first wines in the Ellisras area died early when no bank believed this could be a successful wine region.
After beginning his career at Robertson Winery under Bowen Botha, he joined the prestigious Boekenhoutskloof Winery in Franschhoek (2000-2003), under Chief Winemaker and Co-founder Marc Kent. JC also gained international experience in France before coming to Michael & David Vineyards of Lodi, California in 2003. Michael and David Phillips are 5th generation wine and vegetable growers but first generation to focus primarily on winemaking. With the release of their wines nationally they increased their sales by 600% in four years. JC was an integral part of this. JC was also instrumental in creating the first high end Cabernet Sauvignon for the Lodi Appellation wine region by presenting the owners with a taste of the Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon. Today their Rapture Cabernet is sold for $59 in a region where a $20 bottle of wine is the average price!

In 2005 JC became the winemaker for Peltier Station Winery. Owners, Rodney & Gayla Schatz, are 3rd generation Lodi farmers who expanded their grape growing business to include a winery that does custom-crushing, winemaking and bottling. With no label of their own, JC took the opportunity to introduce their own brand.
A custom bulk wine facility has been grown into a multi-million dollar operation due to JC’s vision for their own wine labels and his experience in growing brands. JC’s remarkable blending skills have earned him numerous accolades including Best of Show and Best of Class at the San Francisco Chronicle tasting, Best of Region (Lodi) and Best of Class at the California State Fair four years in a row.

Recently Naked Wines, a company investing in talented winemakers around the world to produce their own labels chose JC to be one of their winemakers and of his “JC van Staden Cabernet Sauvignon” 780 cases were sold within the first month. JC gives honors to Bowen Botha and Marc Kent for teaching him and believing in him to make them proud one day. I think it’s safe to say they were successful!

In his free time, JC enjoys refereeing for Sacramento Rugby and keeping up with his wife Carien and two children, Christoff and Amika.