Working nine to wine with Karlin Nel
Updated: Nov 10
Im super excited to have Karlin as a guest on my blog. The Vrede En Lust Boet Erasmus is one of my all time favorite wines.
Karlin Nel is the Winemaker/Cellar Master at Vrede En Lust, she is passionate about people, nature and viticulture.
With both local and international experience in Wine Making and was appointed in October 2017 as Cellar master at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate at the age of 25, the youngest female winemaker in South Africa at the time.
Recently she has been one of three South African winemakers invited to and attending an Enzyme workshop in Lille France, hosted by Oenobrands. Oenobrands is one of the leaders in developing a range of oenological products including enzymes, yeast, yeast-derived products and bacteria.
Karlin took some time out of her hectic schedule to answer some questions and share some of her experiences .
1. What drew you to a career as Winemaker and where did you develop your love
My love for wine/viticulture emerged at the very very young age of 8 while cycling on a wine farm in Stellenbosch. We stayed in Stellenbosch when I was in primary school for two years. On one beautiful morning in Stellies I decided that that I want to become a winemaker and work in vineyards and cellars.
(At that age I didn’t have a clue on how wine is made or even how it taste!)
2. What do you like the most about your chosen career path as a Winemaker?
I think the wine industry is such am evolving and magical industry. Every year you are working with mother nature that challenges you in so many ways. Everyone in the wine industry is filled with passion and a love for what they are doing. Working with passionate people motivates you to be better and in the same way inspires you to create beautiful wines. There are plenty of research and development in the wine industry so you learn something new every single day.
3. In a male dominated industry what has been your biggest challenge?
I must say in the past couple of years things changed a lot in our industry. Previously it was a super male dominated career choice to follow. In my class we were 60% girls. Currently we are three woman winemakers just up in my road. The toughest thing was to make your mark and get the respect of the older generation of male winemakers. They absolutely know more than I do and they can teach me a lot, but over years it was to earn trust from these guys.
4. What advice do you have for young women who want to pursue a career in
Number one thing I tell young aspiring winemakers: YOU NEED TO HAVE PASSION. Passion for your career is the number one thing that you will need. With passion and determination you can do anything that you want to do. Make sure you fully understand what the task of winemaker is. It is a tough job with long hours and plenty of attention to details. It is sometimes like running a factory. You need to like people and it is a 100% team sport.
5. Have you noticed any trends emerging in the wine industry that you would like
to mention? ( canned wine, recyclable packaging etc
There are plenty of trends in the industry. The newest trend is wine in cans. Yes for sure people will love it. It is all the do with your brand and brand vision.
6. Is there a particular Vintage or a wine that you are particularly proud of?
It is always difficult to choose your best wine or vintage! (it is like choosing your favourite child…)
I love Sauvignon Blanc , I made a Vrede en Lust Artisan Blanc Fumé 2019 (Barrel fermented Sauv Blanc) that I just adore. I love the wine and it is a true expression of the site (Elgin) and the vineyards.
7. South Africa has a rich wine heritage. Which wine pops to mind when we talk
about a proudly South African wine?
Proudly South African wines must most definitely be Pinotage and Chenin Blanc for me! Pinotgae is a red grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. It was cultivated in 1925 between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut at the University of Stellenbosch. On the other hand we have Chenin Blanc that is such an expressive cultivar and South African winemakers surely know how to get people to talk about this beautiful cultivar! I think we produce outstanding wines in South Africa.
8. What is your most memorable moment as the winemaker at Vrede En Lust?
Most memorable moment is difficult to choose , I was blessed with so many amazing moments at Vrede en Lust. My top 2 will be the first time when I walked into my first job in on the 9th of Jan 2015 and the second being my appointment of cellar master in Oct. 2017.
9. Heritage day was last month. What food and wine pairing did you do?
I just love food! It is my second favourite thing in the world… Heritage day screams braai! I can do with a beautiful steak but earthy mushroom sauce paired with a Bottle of Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus.
Book a Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour at Vrede En Lust : https://www.vnl.co.za/the-estate/our-wines-copy/
My husband and I recently decided to take a trip to Vrede en Lust . It was a stunning day ,so what better to do than go taste wine.
We decided to do the Black Label Tasting. My husband is not a fan of Pinot Noir but Karlin i think you have converted him. The Valley where Vrede En Lust is situated is too hot for Pinot Noir Grapes, these grapes are grown in Elgin.
Black Label Tasting
R95.00 per person
Includes Barrique, Kogelberg Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Boet Erasmus
Flight of four wines
*Images by Jan Dorfling.