Marlize Jacobs of Vergenoegd Wine Estate

Monday, 14 March, 2016
I met Marlize Jacobs this year when Madeleine and I started to work with Vergenoegd Wine Estate to help them with their Harvest Lunches. Marlize has 9 Vergenoegd Harvest notches in her belt.

It has been interesting to watch her blossom, as for the first time, she has really been exposed to the public and has interacted with them at the Harvest Lunch tables and has charmed many with her great knowledge of the estate and its vineyards. As both vineyardist and wine maker, Marlize sees the whole process through from the pruning of the vines towards the end of winter through to the final bottling.  The 2016 harvest was a tough one for her, as indeed for many of her winemaking colleagues.  The harvest was late and short and sharp with crops down across the winelands from anything between 30% and in some bad cases 60%.  However the Vergenoegd vineyards gave forth top quality grapes, now all harvested and busy fermenting and we hope that 2016 will be a great year for Marlize.

I spoke to her recently to find out a bit more of the person, rather than the viticulturist winemaker.

Where were you born?
Winburg in the Free State

What was the defining moment in your life which set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?
In about 2002, when I was attending the Cape Wine Academy courses while working as a restaurant manager, I tasted wines from the Northern Rhône during one session. I drove home, had a cup of tea, and could still after that taste the wine in my mouth. I decided: I would like to create this kind of magic!

Where did you train to become a winemaker?
Elsenburg College at Stellenbosch University from 2005 to 2007

Who would you regard as your mentor?
There are a few. Abé Beukes (ex Darling Cellars) for encouraging me to leave everything and go and study, Nick Diemont (Strandveld Vineyards) for believing in me and John Faure that taught me how to be consistent, emphatic and humble to nature.

You work with a selection of some of the world’s most noble grape varieties. Is there one other variety with which you would really like to work?
Viognier! of course

If you could choose anywhere in the world to make wine other than where you are now, where would it be?
California for a challenge with nature. Canada because I love the cold weather.

I know it is a bit tricky asking a mother to choose her favourite child, but which one of your wines is your current favourite?
Cabernet Sauvignon. It has always been my favourite, with Merlot as a middle (misunderstood) child. Cabernet has always done exceptionally well on Vergenoegd – I seriously think our soils were designed to grow Cab.

Your greatest bottle of wine ever? [And you can’t say one of your own!]
Uhmm….. there were a few, but if I go back on my notes, the Opus One 1999 got the biggest score from me ever!

Do you enjoy cooking?
I do, when I have time, lots of time. Not during harvest though.

If yes what do you enjoying cooking most?
I have experimented with Jamie Oliver recipes but it always lead to disaster. Therefore I stick to stuff I know: Greek, Italian, and a whole lot of local lekker boerekos thrown in. I like to use natural ingredients that I grow myself.

The style of restaurant you most enjoy visiting?
I don’t dine out often, but I like to try different styles of cooking, and I always match wine to the dishes. Sadly, a lot of restaurants allow themselves to be bullied into stocking wines of the “mainstream suppliers” that doesn’t leave much to the imagination….

Your ideal dinner party table of 6?  Tell me why you chose them.
Oohh exciting!
Johnny Depp because he looks good and can shoot a gun
Stephen King because he is my favourite writer (I am an avid collector and owns every book he ever wrote). And he is crazy.
Helen Mirren because I think she is a wonderful, interesting woman with lots of talent. And I think she will get along splendidly with Johnny.
Hugh Jackman because he is Wolverine, but in real life he is a very real, very humble person that can actually tapdance.
Maxi Jazz – of Faithless. He understands and underwrites the atrocities of humankind and writes songs about it.
Trevor Noah – for obvious reasons

Your favourite holiday destination?
Holiday? What is a holiday? I don’t need a holiday because my work seems like a lifelong holiday. BUT, if I could choose an ideal holiday, it would be on the ski slopes somewhere……

What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
Hahaha! I only read to relax/escape. Currently a novel by Karen Slaughter.

One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island?
God is a DJ by Faithless – I actually stated that it should be my epitome at my funeral. An extraction:

“This is my church, this is where I heal my hurts. It’s in natural grace of watching young life shape, it’s in monarchy’s and solutions – enemies becoming friends when bitterness ends. This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts. It’s in a world I become, contained between voice and drum. The poetic justice of cause and effect, love, compassion.This is my church, this is where I heal my hurts – for tonight ……….– God is a DJ! “

Guilty Pleasures?
Heavy Metal music (Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Deep Purple, and some other obscure bands that derives from the 80’s)
Having a nap on a Sunday afternoon
Eating pizza every Saturday night – my own creation
Reading a book (fiction only!) on my off days

How can a visitor contact Vergenoegd Estate?
Telephone +27.218433248

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