In one of the top coups in the wine industry, Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate has announced the appointment of award-winning Johann Fourie as its head winemaker. Johann left the KWV last week, where he and his team reaped numerous industry awards.
For Johann the move to Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate is a radical departure, in leaving a corporate winemaking environment at the KWV in Paarl, for a 66 ha boutique Walker Bay wine farm located on the outskirts of Hermanus.
Benguela Cove co-owner Penny Streeter, who has received an OBE, with her husband Nick Rea, have just bought a property in West Sussex, and Johann will also be responsible for producing sparkling wine there. Part of the renamed Mannings Heath Golf Club & Wine Estate 500 acre golf estate will be dedicated to vineyards, Johann planting Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier next year, and producing its sparkling wine. Both Walker Bay and Sussex are cool-climate wine regions, increasingly important given global warming and both are ideal for the wine style of global palates.
The first Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate wines were made in 2007. Its Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Sèmillon, and Shiraz have received medals from the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London. Its Noble Late Harvest was rated 4½ stars by Platter’s 2016 South African Wine Guide.
Penny says as follow about the new winemaker ‘harvest’ of Johann: ‘If you are going to do something well, then you have to start with the best person and Johann is definitely that. From the day I met Johann he had a passion for Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate that inspired me’.
Johann too is excited about his new winemaking focus, after spending ten years at the KWV, a period during which the winemaking corporate garnered an unprecedented number of wine awards. He says about his new appointment: ‘I’ve always had a soft spot for those regions producing wines with elegance, finesse, balance and longevity. Cooler climate areas like Walker Bay usually deliver on this, but it was the fruit quality and wine style coming from Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate in particular that excited me. Never have I come across wines so distinct in style and of consistently good quality year on year’. Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate wines will be likely to be ‘site-specific, eminently drinkable, showcasing precision, balance and a sense of place… complex wines offering an overall authentic experience… Wine should always showcase cultivar and origin, authenticity and typicity’, added Johann.
He enthused about the quality of UK sparkling wines after a technical tour earlier this year, saying ‘Little did I know then that soon I’ll be overseeing a purely sparkling wine-focussed winery in the Northern Hemisphere!’.
After studying at Elsenburg. Johann did a Wine Business Management course at UCT’s Graduate School of Business. He worked at Badsberg before moving to the KWV.
The new partnership between Penny Streeter and Johann Fourie connects two dynamic, dedicated, talented go-getters. Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate and Mannings Heath Golf Club & Wine Estate will offer visitors and wine lovers two wine destinations in two hemispheres, promising a future sparkling with success. A new local cellar will be completed for the harvest next year, and with it a barrel room, tasting rooms, shops, and a Deli. A restaurant is also planned. In Somerset West Penny already owns Benguela on Main, a top quality restaurant with Chef Jean Delport in the kitchen and one of my favourites, and a Tasting Room. She also owns Benguela Brasserie at Lakeside Lodge outside Sedgefield.
Winemaker Wim Truter from Fleur du Cap has taken over Johann’s job at the KWV.
Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate, R43, Hermanus. Tel +27 (021) 944-1041. www.benguelacove.co.za Twitter: @benguelacove
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein