Meet Marlize Beyers from The Drift Estate I #VinoPeople

Monday, 21 February, 2022
The Drift Estate
Marlize was trained at Stellenbosch University and Elsenburg Agricultural College in South Africa and has been making wine around the world since 2002.

Currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario, she splits her time between The Drift Estate in the Overberg Highlands – South Africa and consulting in California – USA and across Chile and Spain.

How did you get into winemaking?

I grew up on a farm in the Western Cape where my father and grandfather farmed wine grapes, stone fruit, Jersey cows, Percheron horses and proteas. Farming has always been my main interest, but while travelling in Europe for two years after high school, I ended up working a vintage in the vineyards and cellars in Germany. It was not a particular event or wine that made me decide to become a winemaker, rather a curiosity that was piqued by the intricacies of growing vines, how the growing conditions and terroir influences the final wine. I love the seasonality of wine. Working very closely with nature. Every day brings a new challenge, multiple decisions, and tasks, from pruning to finally getting the wine into bottle, which can take a few years to complete. I knew I had to know the subject inside and out, went on to study at Elsenburg Agricultural College and Stellenbosch University to earn my degree in Viticulture and Oenology.

In the world of wine, who do you most admire and why/Who influenced you?

I have always admired Lalou-Bize Leroy (previously from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti). She established Domaine Leroy as one of the leading Burgundian wineries, with a strong focus on biodynamic farming since the '80s. Through hard work, devotion, and constant tasting she studied the terroir of each of her vineyards to bring out the best in each. Her perfectionism and high standard of viticulture allowed her to bottle her wines naturally, which was unusual for the time. Her pioneering spirit paved the way for many female winemakers.

Today her wines are some of the most sought after in the world.

I enjoy reading Jamie Goode`s books, such as The Science of Wine to keep up to date with the advances in science and technology in viticulture and oenology. His smart writing explains the latest scientific findings in a very accessible way, making it fun to study and read.

Last but not the least, the person who most influenced my winemaking style and philosophy was Bruce Jack. As my mentor (I started working with Bruce at Flagstone in 2003), I soaked up all the Bruce Jack wisdoms, his artfully applied scientific approach to wine and all things in life around wine. Just read his excellent magazine, The Jack Journal and you will know what I mean.

What is one of the hardest things about winemaking year in and year out?

For me personally (living in Canada and making wine globally), is not always being able to be present, to taste and make decisions during various stages.
Through technology (pictures, software, cameras, lab analysis, comments and tasting notes from others), I can monitor and manage most steps in the process, but I cannot always taste.
Year in and year out challenges have mostly to do with climate, how we adapt viticulture and winemaking practices year to year to changing climatic conditions.

What are the most rewarding things about your job?

Loving what I do for a living. Every day brings rewards. No matter how challenging people or work relations can be, winemaking itself can almost not be called a job. It`s my way of life and part of who I am.

Any advise to other women in wine?

Be smart, show your strengths, show compassion, trust your instincts, stay curious and find balance in your life. If you choose a career in wine, you may be so infatuated it may be tough to balance family and work, but you will lead a very interesting and fulfilling life.

A quote you live by:

Leave no stone unturned. If something is worth doing, it`s worth doing well.

In 2020 Marlize and Bruce Jack started a global consulting business called Resolute Wine Works, and they currently consult for The Drift Estate and Black Oyster Catcher in South Africa, The Epic Journey in Napa, California and Bruce Jack Wines Chile.

Marlize Beyers
Marlize Beyers

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