JD (Johannes Diederick) has become well-known for his passionate dedication to all aspects of the winemaking process. In 2007, JD completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. JD then went on to enjoy brief periods as cellar hand at Beyerskloof Wines and as harvest supervisor at Graham Beck Wines before he took his skills overseas to the Sonoma Valley of California where he worked the harvest at Stonestreet Wines. Upon his return to South Africa, JD had the opportunity to work alongside John Loubser, the Cellar Master of Steenberg Wines, who soon realised the value of JD’s fresh perspective and invited him to join the team as a winemaker. In early 2019, JD joined the Warwick team to head up the vineyard and to translate the wonderful terroir of Warwick Wine estate into bottled wine for the world to enjoy and connect over.
What is your favourite part of your role at Warwick? That one thing that makes you excited and lose track of time and appetite? I love vineyards and how they can tell a story about a place. Our role is to translate that into wine and to do so without changing the meaning too much. To do this better and more efficiently keeps me very busy!
What do you wish for the future of wine in South Africa?
I wish to grow the image of South African wines to one of quality and uniqueness – not just of value. I wish to provide a sustainable world to all that rely on it for survival, and ultimately give the next generations a better chance of success and prosperity.
What made you interested in joining the Warwick team?
Warwick has built up an incredible brand and has always produced very good wines, but the new team and direction of the brand especially with the acquisition of Uitkyk Wine Estate, gives Warwick the potential to be a true world leading brand and lighthouse for South Africa. I feel extremely proud and excited to be a part of this!
Christiane grew up in the Rhine River Valley amid the wine regions of Pfalz in Germany and Alsace in the neighbouring France. She developed a natural attraction to the world of wine from an early age, and perhaps there was a little bit of destiny involved that eventually led her to pursue a successful career in wine. Having studied Business Science at the University of Cape Town, followed by an MBA at the University of Stellenbosch, Christiane worked for a number of South Africa’s leading wine producers. Christiane joined Warwick as CEO in October 2018, determined to build on the legacy of Norma Ratcliffe as one of the leading women in the South African wine industry. As Warwick’s CEO, Christiane’s primary responsibility is to ensure that all moving parts of the company are aligned towards strategic goals. As a drone pilot herself, Christiane knows how important it is to keep an eye on all the dials in the cockpit, while constantly scanning the horizon for market trends and then translating the dynamics back into actionable plans.
What is the most important advice you can give someone about wine? Don’t wait for a special occasion to open a bottle of wine. Opening the bottle will create the special occasion.
Just what is it about wine that you find so appealing? Not only does a good glass of wine vastly enhance almost any situation, but it opens up the entire world for you. In addition to the aromas and flavours, you’ll find complex layers of history, topography, soil and climate, rounded off to perfection by the special touch added by the winemaker’s philosophy, creativity and inspiration.
What is your favourite Warwick wine and what do you love pairing it with? The Blue Lady Cabernet Sauvignon paired with gnocchi, gorgonzola and walnut sauce.
Having grown up on a small wine farm in Stellenbosch, wine has been coursing through Tom’s veins from an early age. He cut his teeth in the wine industry while working in the United Kingdom for four years with Majestic Wines, attaining his WSET Advanced Level 3 certificate, as well as a wealth of global wine knowledge. Once he had enough of the UK weather, he moved back to South Africa and headed up the sales for both Jordan Winery and Vergelegen Wine Estate for eight years. Now in charge of the sales and marketing, he is excited to be a part of the next chapter at Warwick and thrilled to be a part of such a dynamic new team. Tom has been tasked with ensuring the continuity of the brand, and its exciting evolution from a South African leader into a competitive global brand.
What is the most important advice you can give someone about wine? Never stop tasting!
Just what is it about wine that you find so appealing? How it generally brings everyone together, wine is always common ground.
What is your favourite part of your role? That one thing that makes you excited and lose track of time and appetite? Engaging with clients, developing the necessary strategies and watching them unfold in the market. Product development is a pretty tasty task, too.
Spencer Fondamaurie is not only a certified wine judge who graduated through the Michael Fridjhon Wine Academy where he successfully passed the WSET Level 3 certification in 2016, but he is also one of only five hundred individuals who passed the challenging exam to become an Associationde la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) certified sommelier. Added to this, Spencer is a qualified chef with years in the hospitality industry. His diverse skills and experience led him to eventually join the Warwick team as the National Brand Manager in 2018, where he ensures that the unique vision behind the wine is communicated to the world in a creative and authentic way. Spencer’s qualifications might sound technical, but his mission remains to inspire people to “Just enjoy what’s in the glass in front of you, forget all the pretences and grandeur and enjoy the wine and the moment for what it is.”
Just what is it about wine that you find so appealing? Wine is an amazing thing – what in the world can you put in your mouth that can change from the first sip to the last? No two wines are the same. Of the millions of different labels out there, not one is the same as another. That is amazing.
What is your role and the importance of your role at Warwick? I am a bit of a wine geek, certainly a wine enthusiast with a strong background in hospitality. I rely on those two things to build a marketing strategy for the brand, as well as contributing to sales. I want to be able to make the whole world see what we are about, and not be like I was when I first got involved and dismiss it as just ‘commercial’. I want to communicate the detail and the vision of our wines in a way that everyone will understand.
What do you wish for the future of wine in South Africa? I wish for South Africans to wake up and realise the gems we are producing and to appreciate that is not like anything else in the world. Appreciate, revere, take pride in it, invest in it, spend money on it and most of all, drink it. We should be on the map, we deserve to be on the map, and we will never get there waiting for other people to be proud of us.