Wine Cellar has done it again. And that is identifying SA’s hottest young winemaking talent. This year’s Young Guns theme is “Back to Basics” and the third in a series of seven blogs features Etienne Terblanche and Stephanie Wiid of Thistle & Weed. Here are their answers to seven quick questions.
1) What inspired you to study what you did?
Etienne: I literally grew up in a restaurant on the West Coast and wine was part of each day. I first became intrigued with the labels and by the time I was 10 or 11, I had built up quite the wine label collection (having the opportunity to prey on the empties off the restaurant tables). From there it started, I guess, and soon I was fermenting all kinds of fruit in containers under my bed! When it came to deciding what to study, there was no other choice.
Stephanie: My sisters strongly encouraged me – they saw it as an eternal source of free wine from their little sister and sealed the deal by introducing me to Jacqueline Harris (at the time she was working at Bouchard Finlayson) when I was in matric. And yes, we still called it matric. It was not a farfetched career choice as my ‘oupa’ was also in the wine industry (Niel Joubert of Spier). I signed up for BScAgric and never looked back.
2) What is your favourite wine to make and to drink?
Etienne & Stephanie: Chenin Blanc
3) You’re stranded on a desolate island, but then discover lush and healthy vineyards and basic cellar equipment (left behind by the island’s previous inhabitants). What is the first thing you would do?
Etienne: Obviously we’ll have to figure out which variety it is! If it’s something cool, I’ll stay. If it’s not, we’ll have to start building a float, to import some ‘lekker’ varieties from Vititec!
Stephanie: Try get Etienne out of the vineyards so that we can figure out how to get rescued! But like most of our planning, we would do it over a glass of wine.
4) Do you have a favourite wine experience (local or abroad) you would like to share?
Etienne & Stephanie: Being part of putting something like Duwweltjie in a bottle and seeing how people share our enthusiasm. It’s a huge privilege to be part of something unique and then seeing people enjoying it! Releasing our first wine for Thistle and Weed was something special!
5) What is the worst advice you ever got in your winemaking career?
Etienne: Haha! “Throw in some more dry ice!”
6) What advice would you give a local up-and-coming winemaker?
Etienne: Go for it! The outer edge of your current perspective is only the start! Spend more time in the vineyards.
7) Do you have a mentor in the wine industry (local or international)? If yes, how did this person influence you?
Stephanie: Charles Back
Etienne: Delheim as a whole has really allowed me to grow and supported me in my endeavors, for which I am extremely grateful.