Award-winning Bartinney winemaker Ronell Wiid
Some people are under the impression that New World countries haven’t been making wine very long. Well, in South Africa, they’ve been making wine longer than most Old World countries, with the first wine made as far back as 1659.
Our IWSC Trophy-winning producer hasn’t been going quite that long, but it still has more than 100 years of history. Bartinney, located on the slopes of Botmaskop in Banghoek to the east of Stellenbosch, was established in 1912, and has been owned by the Jordaan family since the mid-1950s. The Western Cape has really embraced wine tourism, and Bartinney is very much part of the scene, with a tasting bar and accommodation on site.
Bartinney is set on the slopes of Botmaskop overlooking the picturesque Banhoek Valley in Stellenbosch
Each bottle of Bartinney bears a winged figure named Elevage, a tribute to the French term for “raising” and maturing a wine through its journey from grape to bottle. One of the wines that impressed IWSC judges the most is Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, which scored 95/100pts, drawing praise for its notes of cigar and tobacco – “a Stellenbosch at its most prime”.
Here’s Bartinney winemaker Ronell Wiid to explain how she got involved in the wine industry and her winemaking philosophy.
I got into wine via a degree in geology and geochemistry at Stellenbosch University, then a two-year stint as a field technician for an engineering geologist firm. A growing interest in wine (drinking!) and what happens during the production of wine led me to a seasonal job in a winery and I found my true vocation – that was in the mid-1980s.
Our industry has a great sharing environment. As I didn’t study viticulture and viniculture formally, I was like a sponge during the first few years, slurping up ideas and advice. I read a lots of wine-related magazines and technical books and drank as many different wines from around the world as I could get my hands on.
Within my first year in the wine industry, I was invited to a winemakers’ club tasting – the theme was First and Second Growths. It was a fabulous introduction to Bordeaux and I’m still striving to emulate that perfect tannin structure the best Bordeaux display in their best vintages.
Every season contains its own growing conditions and challenges during harvest and in the winery. Thinking on your feet is paramount for me. It’s that element of expectation and slight nervousness that keeps me going, even after more than 30 seasons of winemaking. When I lose the excitement of looking forward to what will make this year special, I’ll have to retire.
The South African wine industry has evolved dramatically since then, in all aspects, and so as a winemaker one adjusts one’s thought process and preferences continuously, adapting to new trends.
Banghoek wines, of which Bartinney is a prime example, have an elegance and inner strength that is opulent yet firm. The first glass should be enjoyed and savoured by itself, any time during the day or night. Share the rest of the bottle with a friend.