Vondeling’s Viticulturist, Magnus Joubert, is working his 7th vintage at Vondeling this year. This gentle giant grew up on a wine farm in Stellenbosch and as a result, wine grape growing runs in his veins. He obtained a qualification from Elsenburg Acricultural Training Institute in 2000 and has been working as a viticulturist in the wine industry ever since. Magnus lives on Vondeling with his wife, Ciska, and their two daughters, Mia and Lisa. When he’s not tending to our vineyards, he loves to spend time away in rural Transkei where the people are friendly, and the coast line goes on forever.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a viticulturist?
A: You plant a vine today and have the privilege to see it grow for 20, 30, 40 years. I also enjoy the fact that every year is different and brings its own challenges and that not one day is the same. The most satisfying aspect of my work is that I can literally taste the fruit of my labour.
Q: Vondeling is a Conservation Champion. What vineyard practices do you use to minimise the impact on the environment?
A: We try and minimise the use of any chemicals as much as we can. Only target-specific products are used when spraying for diseases and pests, and only when absolutely necessary. We sow cover crops to build up organic matter in the soil, and this also supresses weed growth. Soil water is constantly being measured to determine whether we should irrigate or not, which prevents over-irrigation and assists us to use this scarce natural resource as sparingly as possible. The most important thing about being a Conservation Champion, is to learn to farm in harmony with nature, and not to try and outsmart her.
Q: Do you have any specific cultivars you prefer working with, and if so, what makes it so great?
A: I love working with Chardonnay. It is an upright grower and do not have a lot of side shoots, which means managing the vineyard’s canopy is easier.
Q: As a farmer, what are the biggest challenges you must face in your role?
A: The last 3 years have been tough with the drought. This brought a lot of challenges and at times it was very difficult to manage our water supply and use it optimally. Our dams literally ran dry and as a result we had to adapt our canopy management to ensure the vines do not stress too much and that we still produce quality grapes.
Another challenge is the many hats a farmer wears daily. You must be a leader, doctor, priest, mechanic, accountant, and you must switch hats constantly. It can be challenging at times, but luckily the reward is worth it..
Q: Please give us an overview of the current harvest and what consumers can expect from Voor-Paardeberg for the 2019 vintage.
A: We had good winter rains in 2018 which ensured a good growing season with more available water. We are very fortunate to not have experienced any diseases in our vineyards. Volume-wise, the 2019 harvest is pretty much the as 2018, but the quality looks better, which makes the winemakers happy.
Q: Do you have a favourite Vondeling wine, and if so, which one? Why do you like this wine?
A: I like our Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a well-structured wine and one that can mature for several years. It drinks beautifully with a good piece of steak braaied over the coals, which is my favourite food.
Q: What is the one thing that you never expected, but have learned during your career as a Viticulturist?
A: Sometimes you should trust your gut feeling more than science.
Q: What was your fondest wine moment?
A: Probably when I delivered my first load of grapes. It was the first grapes I produced on my own and I was very proud of it. It was a load of Sauvignon Blanc; I can still recall it as if it happened yesterday.