Meet KWV's exciting young red wine crafter
KWV winemaker Izele van Blerk’s motto, “expect the unexpected”, both provides the stimulation she loves and keeps her on her toes in the winemaking business, where “no one wine will ever taste the same twice”. Through her responsibility for the KWV Classic Collection in particular, this approach stands her in good stead. The KWV Classic Collection is a range of stylish and sophisticated wines reserved for the discerning wine drinker in search of a rewarding experience. Ultimately, the vision is that every vintage of KWV Classic Collection should be better than the last, a commitment to quality that has resulted in numerous accolades and awards – and this is where Izele applies her passion. Growing up, she spent most of her time in one of two places: either the vineyard, or the tennis court. After matriculating, she spent a year in the USA on a tennis scholarship, but picked up an injury and decided to come back to South Africa and set her winemaking career in motion. She has a BSc degree in Viticulture and Oenology from Stellenbosch and began working at KWV in 2009. Meanwhile, she has gained a range of other diplomas and experiences – including stint at a Falesco Winery in Italy and passing the Michel Fridjhon Tasting Academy exam with distinction – which have lead her on the path towards wine judging. “I want to improve my winemaking skills so that I can make wine to world class standards, and I hope to gain even more international experience both as a winemaker and as a wine judge. In five years’ time I don’t want to be just another person who makes wine for a living, but a real leader, a passionate winemaker and a world-class taster.” She has found her niche comfortably in the KWV team where, she says, everyone strives for more knowledge and constantly challenges themselves and one another. She believes that team work and the collective pursuit for perfection makes theirs one of the strongest and most competitive teams in the industry. “I believe that the team will stay honest in what we believe and what we do. We can always improve and keep on challenging ourselves against benchmarks set here and in other parts of the world.” Her biggest challenge so far has been setting a trend as a young female winemaker in a big winery, but,” she adds, “I like a challenge and the competitive nature of the industry keeps pushing me on my road as a winemaker.” Like for many winemakers, harvest time is her favourite time of the year. It’s also the most difficult part of a winemaker’s calendar. “Everything starts in harvest. A wine can be crafted to perfection then.” She also loves blending wines and – not surprisingly for a sportswoman – all the running around her job with the KWV Classic Collection entails. “I love an honest challenge and oh boy, we have more than enough of those in the winery.
This article first appeared on www.wine.co.za