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Hard Pressed: Sparkling payoff for Plett wine pioneer

01 October 2014 - 02:13 By Emma Jordan
NEW VINTAGE: Anton Smal of Bramon Estate
NEW VINTAGE: Anton Smal of Bramon Estate

I joined Villiera in the 1980s as a carpenter after my studies at Elsenburg Agricultural College, Stellenbosch.

But they needed someone to work in the cellar. I worked there during harvest and then went back to carpentry out of harvest.

I had a look at Bramon in 2008.There weren't enough grapes in the Plettenberg Bay area to justify a wine cellar. In 2010 they were ready for me.

My first harvest was the worst I've ever had in my life. A nightmare. We had droughts in 2009/2010. In 2010 all the rain came, and there was the mist. And because it's a new wine area, there are new challenges. There is huge birdlife that will relieve you of all your grapes before you can pick them.

Now, four years later the area has exploded. There are 10 labels and close to 65ha of grapes planted. They're all small pockets of vineyards. I make wine for most of the estates in the area [using the Bramon cellar]. I take grapes from everyone and do the best I can. Terroir will predict what you get.

Two weeks ago we got a nice double gold Michelangelo award. It was for the Newstead Chardonnay bubbly.

It's nice to win awards. Usually, if you win an award the wine deserves it, but you have to be clever as these contests are very subjective.

I'm having great fun. I love this area, and every moment I can I'm in the ocean. The water is much warmer up here than in Cape Town.

Winter is the best time for surfing. I go to Jefffreys Bay and ride waves as much as possible. It's nice to have the flexi-time.

  • Bramon Estate's new vintage will be released at the Plett Wine and Bubbly Festival this weekend. See www.plettwinelands.co.za