Flying Solo
published on:

It takes courage and hard work to fly solo as a winemaker.

Back in the 80s and 90s, it was winemakers like Beyers Truter, who left Kanonkop to start Beyerskloof, focusing on Pinotage; Etienne Le Riche, who left Rustenberg to start his own venture, Le Riche Wines, specialising in Cabernet; and Neil Ellis, who bravely forged ahead, leaving their winemaking day jobs to build their own brands. After he left Zevenwacht, Ellis, a pioneer of the negociant trend in South Africa, cherry picked grapes from carefully selected and managed parcels of vineyard. He put the Groenekloof ward in Darling firmly on the map and grew Neil Ellis Wines into the successful family business that it is today.

Eben Sadie was the winemaker at Spice Route near Malmesbury before blazing a trail in the Swartland with the stellar Sadie Family Wines, which he started in 1999. Other well-known winemakers followed suit, including Adi Badenhorst, who left Rustenberg after nine years to start AA Badenhorst Family Wines.

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