Cavalli Estate welcomes Rianie Strydom as Head winemaker.
A graduate of the University of Stellenbosch, Rianie comes with a wealth of experience.
She worked a vintage in Burgundy in 1996 and in Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux, France, in 1998 to further her winemaking skills.
She has travelled extensively in Europe, America and Australia in her ongoing pursuit of excellence and to gain a greater understanding of terroir and its relationship to great wine.
Rianie is a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild and is widely respected as one of the top winemakers in South Africa.
“Wine shouldn’t be a pretentious thing. It should not be intimidating, and it should be enjoyed by all. That’s how we approach making wine”
In the spirit of getting to know Rianie better, we had a Q&A session with her.
1) When did you first become interested in becoming a winemaker?
At 13, I had a clear picture of a career combining my interest in chemistry and my love for being outdoors.
2) What is your most memorable wine or wine-tasting experience?
In general, I enjoy tasting and experiencing all kinds of flavours and textures.
I recall Michael Fridjhon’s Wine Experience tastings in the early 2000’s. It was the beginning of elevated wine tastings by combining the best of the culinary world with international wines. That was very memorable.
However, the tasting that will always stay with me, that shaped me, would be the one on one tasting I had with Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, at that time, owner and managing director of Château Pichon Longueville Lalande in France.
Madame May went on to become owner and managing director of Glenelly Estate, in Stellenbosch.
Born into one of Bordeaux’s oldest wine families, the Miailhe, Lady May as she’s fondly known, has lived through World War 2, feeding people in hiding at Château Palmer, where she grew up.
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, seen as a Super Second Growth Château, produces some of the best Bordeaux blends in the world. The balance, elegance and flawless nature of these wines inspired me to make the best wines I can aspire to.
One of Madame’s famous lines is: ‘Glass and wine have lot in common, they both come from poor material and poor soils and through man’s talent and genius, they become works of art.’
3) What do you enjoy best about being a winemaker?
I just love making wine. I live for the harvest season. The energy in and around the cellar is thrilling!
4) What are the fundamentals of your winemaking approach?
I like to think of a winemaker as a custodian between planting a vine and bottling a wine.
Respecting what grows in nature, nurturing it and developing it into something that can be enjoyed by all.
5) What are your personal winemaking goals?
I feel privileged to say that I have achieved many goals I set out for myself of making award-winning wines.
I now find joy in sharing my knowledge and experience with younger winemakers. Giving back, as well as continuously learning from the younger generation.
6) What has surprised you about being a winemaker?
The number of opportunities being a winemaker provides surprised me.
There are so many layers to being a winemaker. Chemistry, viticulture, artistry, marketing, public speaking, travel, business acumen and education, to name a few. It is a multilayered profession that I find very satisfying.