Did you know there are several South African winemakers in Western Australia?
I started seeing a few names that were distinctly South African sounding so I started putting a list together and was lucky enough to meet some of them on our most recent trip to the Margaret River region.
Meet 3 South African winemakers in Western Australia.
Trait Wines – Theo Truyts
Born in Cape Town, Theo Truyts is man behind Trait Wines. With his English wife, Clare doing a lot of the behind the scenes work, and Theo spending almost every spare minute with the delicate vines, they’re making some of the most interesting wine I’ve tasted in a long time.
Theo grew up around South Africa and Lesotho, before settling in the Cape to finish his degree in viticulture and started working in the wine industry. Vineyards he worked at included Ernie Els Wines, Yves Cuilleron and Hartford Family Winery in California.
After moving to WA and meeting Clare in 2013, they settled in Margaret River with Theo working as a vineyard manager and Clare an emergency doctor.
Trait Wines operates from a relatively small 2.7-hectare vineyard near Margaret River town. Theo has known this plot of land for years, having worked there as part of a previous winery.
First planted in 1988, the slope of the plot and the closeness of the vines makes it impossible to use modern machinery to tend and harvest the vines. Which means that most of the work has to be done by hand. And all around Theo’s day job too.
Despite these challenges, Theo knows just what a little gem this vineyard is, so when it became available for lease, he threw caution to the wind and took it on.
I asked Theo where the name came from, and he said:
“With a viticultural background, my passion is producing beautiful fruit that can be made into wine that reflects the terroir from where it came. Each vineyard has its own personality and characteristics that end up in the final product. We wanted to talk about how the character traits of different vineyards, from the soil, the climate, the slope, the plantings, affect the wine. And the word “trait” also sounds like my surname, “Truyts”.”
We visited in August earlier this year, and got to try their 2020 Chardonnay and 2020 Field Blend. The field blend comprises Sauvignon, Semillon, Chardonnay and Chenin and I found it light and fruity but with plenty of depth to savour as well. The Chardy was absolutely gorgeous, and I say that as not a massive fan of chardonnay in general.
Recently they have started buying other grape varietals from different sites so they can make some red wines as well, and they have a new 2021 Grenache available to buy online alongside some 2021 whites as well.
Find them online at:
Website – https://www.traitwines.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/traitwines/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/trait_wines/
Sons & Daughters Wines – Quentin Gobrechts
Quentin and Corlia Gobrechts are the family behind Sons & Daughters Wines. Quentin lived in the Western Cape until moving to Australia back in 2008 as a newlywed.
While he has made wine for other people for years, he’s always wanted to make his own wine, and share his stories and emotions through his own brand.
After struggling initially to find a name that resonated, they settled on Sons & Daughters, explaining:
“We are obsessed in expressing the beauty in people, life and the way it shapes us as Sons & Daughters. Every day is a blank canvas and the brush strokes of life paints the outlines in our picture, but it really is the way we absorb those strokes that brings out the colour and depth and creates our little masterpiece.”
So in November 2020, they launched their label and hit the ground running. Artwork for the labels are designed by well-known artist Solly Smook, who was born in Namibia but grew up in South Africa.
They recently did their first co-label with a non-for profit organisation who invests in education and upliftment of the Murta aboriginal tribes in the north of WA. Solly created a special painting just for this label which is absolutely gorgeous, check out their Facebook page to see it.
Their wines are stocked in boutique bars and wine stores across Perth & WA. Keep an eye on their Facebook page as they often pop up doing in-store tastings around Perth.
We tried a range of their wines when we visited Margaret River earlier this year. Some of my favourites were the rosé, pet nat, pinot noir (love!!) and a very interesting MSG (mourvèdre-syrah-grenache).
Outside of his day job and winemaking for Sons & Daughters, Quentin is a quintessential South African family man who loves to spend time with Corlia and their three children, play rugby with his eldest son and enjoy a beer and a braai.
Find them online at:
Website – http://www.sonsanddaughters.com.au/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sonsanddaughterswines/
Ampersand Estates – Corrie Scheepers
Just as I was putting the finishing touches to this post, I was excited to come across a winery that is about to launch – all thanks to LinkedIn! I spotted a post from Corrie Scheepers about a brand new wine estate and distillery ready to launch soon in Margaret River, and we had a chat about his new venture which sounds amazing!
Corrie grew up on a citrus and sugar cane farm in Malelane, Mpumalanga. After moving to America on a tennis scholarship and completing his studies, he spent his 30th birthday in Sydney and decided that Australia was now home.
Ampersand Estates is owned and run by Corrie and his American business partner, Melissa Bell. Previously owners of a successful advisory firm, they sold that business to Deloitte back in 2019 before starting a partnership in Perth. However, in 2021 they followed their passion to set up Ampersand Estates, due to open in December 2021.
I asked Corrie where the name came from, and he said:
“Ampersand is the name of the character “&.” Essentially, It’s the symbol for “and” which the estate very much embodies the spirt of “and.”
We believe in combining elements to create outstanding experiences and beautiful memories, at Ampersand Estates you can experience premium wine and gourmet picnics and unique spirits and the beauty of Western Australia.
Life is so much more with an ampersand, with an “and”; so, whether you pop in at the cellar door, spend the weekend in one of our luxury homes, enjoy a gourmet picnic on the banks of the Donnelly River or celebrate your wedding overlooking the old growth trees of Easter National Park you will experience the ampersand.”
Corrie and Melissa share a major passion for wine and other artisanal products that embody a specific place and represent a specific year and vintage. They aim to use the best products from a specific year and a specific location to build a complete spirit from a single region. Ultimately, they want to craft vodka and gin that were the distillation of a single region and a year just like in wine.
Ampersand Estates is set along the Donnelly River and is the oldest winery in Pemberton. The rich land and outstanding produce of the Southern Forests makes it the perfect home for on-estate distilling of spirits from local Pemberton potatoes, growing their own botanicals in the gin garden, and even cultivating Western Australia’s only plantation of juniper trees.
Not only this, but they also plan to open luxury accommodation and become a destination wedding venue for those looking to get married in the South West. All this with a healthy dose of traditional South African hospitality!
As they have yet to launch, I asked Corrie to tell me more about their wine range:
“Ampersand Estates produces a rage of light, approachable wines suitable for immediate enjoyment and styled to be paired with picnics, a “braai” and other special occasions. Crafted by the regions’ top wine makers (which includes fellow South African, Andries Mostert), Ampersand Estates’ wines are an expression of the regions’ unique beauty and outstanding terroir.
We have only shared this year’s vintage with a few trusted friends and wine experts but all the reviews to date have been glowing!
We are thrilled to launch our maiden vintage to the public in December, it will initially be available for sale in our newly renovated cellar door and then in a select number of WA restaurants. We look forward to sharing it with everyone, especially as the Shiraz that pairs exceptionally well with homemade biltong.”
As an extra special launch offer, Corrie has very kindly created a discount code just for us – when you book a stay with them online, enter the code “ProudlySouthAfricaninPerth” and get 15% off your stay.* Thank you Corrie!
Find them online at:
Website – https://ampersandestates.com.au/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ampersandestates/
*discount code is valid from 1 December 2021 to 30 November 2022
A big thank you to Theo, Clare, Quentin and Corlia for making time to meet with me while I was in Margaret River and sharing their special wines with me!
Do you know of more South African winemakers in Western Australia, or elsewhere in Australia? Give them a shout out in the comments to let everyone know about them!