Women In Wine Interview: Marinda from Elgin Vintners.
Im incredibly excited to have MARINDA KRUGER-CLAASSEN from Elgin Vintners as a participant in my Women In Wine Series.
Marinda is the Winemaker and Business Manager, and also one of the shareholders at Elgin Vintners.
Marinda is as serious about the business side of wine as she is passionate about the taste of the wine she produces.
Im a fan of Elgin Vintners wines , especially their Syrah. The Elgin area is well known for the production of superior cool climate wines.
Join me as I chat with Marinda about the business of wine, trends in the wine industry and what she will be serving on her Christmas table.
1. What do you like the most about your chosen career path as a Business Manager and Wine Maker for Elgin Vintners?
I love to strategies. Being the Business Manager I have a clear view of all the aspects of the business, our strengths, weakness, and marketplace intelligence and this allows me to creatively come up with plans to not only survive but thrive in this extremely competitive market. I just get a huge kick when a plan comes together.
2. What has been your biggest challenge in the wine industry (you can talk about the Government lockdown and alcohol ban)?
The biggest challenge is forward-thinking and embracing change, how to stand out amongst all the marketing noise, and how to do things differently to increase customer satisfaction. This needs to be a constant process. We will always experience some sort of challenge, be it COVID, alcohol bans, global over-supply generating price pressure etc. However, your mindset must be positive – “every threat should be turned into an opportunity”.
3. What advice do you have for young women who want to pursue a career in wine?
Work hard, be diligent and be patient – success does not come overnight.
4. Have you noticed any trends emerging in the wine industry that you would like to mention?
‘Health’ and ‘going green’ are the biggest trends in most industries. As a wine business, we must convert these trends into our portfolio and into all our operations to show the world we care.
Our IPW certification (Integrated Production of Wine) on the farm and our practices in the vineyards and winery demonstrate environmental sustainability. Our WWF Conservation Championship status takes these practices right through to the final product level which ultimately led to the creation of our Fynbos Lite range which is low in alcohol (great for the health-conscious consumer) and in a can which is recyclable with a very light-carbon footprint.
5. Is there a particular Vintage or a wine that you are particularly proud of?
There are 2 wines I am especially proud of. The Elgin Vintner Pinot Noir 2019 was rated as one of the Top 5 Pinot Noir wines in South Africa, which made me extremely proud on many levels.
The second wine is the Ridgelands Sandstone 2019 – a wild yeast barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc. I just love making this style of wine. This maiden vintage of Sandstone was awarded 4.5 stars in the 2021 Platter’s guide and 92 points by the renowned wine critic, Tim Atkin MW. I am proud to say I can convert all non-Sauvignon drinkers with this wine 😊
6. Elgin is known for producing cool climate wines. How does this affect the wine produced?
I love the high natural organic acidity in the grapes that follows through to the wine. Our wines are elegant and concentrated due to the long, slow ripening in this cool-climate terroir.
7. South Africa has a rich wine heritage. Which wine pops to mind when we talk about a proudly South African wine?
All wine made AND bottled in South Africa and approved by SAWIS are Proudly South African. We have diverse regions and terroirs which reflects in the wine and it will be impossible to mention a single wine or cultivar to represent all of that in one.
8. What is your most memorable moment at Elgin Vintners ?
Taking in grapes for the very first time during the 2020 vintage into our own winery was a huge highlight for me, as we have always rented winery space elsewhere in the valley.
Also, receiving the Trophy for the Best Pinot Noir during the Michelangelo International Wine Awards – Elgin Vintners so much deserved this.
9. Christmas is on its way. What food & wine pairing will you be doing this festive season?
I absolutely love Christmas. I stretch out the Christmas menu to last the whole day, it is a full day affair in our house!
We start with brunch - Belle Amie Blanc de Noir with finger food and tapas. This is followed by Elgin Vintners Sauvignon Blanc with tempura prawns on a bed of fresh greens and drizzled with a light, sweet-chili sauce.
For the big buffet lunch, there is usually Turducken, gammon with my famous sweet mustard sauce, and pulled leg of lamb with a savoury five-spice soya sauce, and lots of salads. We’ll be enjoying the Elgin Vintners Chardonnay and Ridgelands Sandstone Sauvignon Blanc to go with the white meats, and Elgin Vintners Merlot and Ridgelands Syrah for the red wine and red meat lovers.
Our T’Kane Ouwe Viognier straw wine (not released yet) will finish the Christmas menu with chocolate trifle and a lovely cheese platter with green fig preserve and onion marmalade.
Note: Elgin were kind to send me samples of their Fynbos Lite wines in a can. A review on the wines will be posted soon.
Find out more about Elgin Vintners ; https://elginvintners.co.za/