• LOCATION 4 | Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle

    4. The Alchemist’s Laboratory

    4. The Alchemist’s Laboratory on Cape Town audio tour Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle

    NARRATOR: Welcome to the alchemist’s laboratory, where Groot Constantia’s chief winemaker, Boela Gerber, crafts liquid gold.

    Let’s not hang around here, at the top of the stairs. Follow the arrow to your right and carry on all the way over to the farthest corner of the cellar. You’ll know you’re there when you see the sign for location five.

    This might be where the magic happens, but Boela Gerber doesn’t like to think of himself as an alchemist.

    BOELA: The whole thing about winemaking being an art…I think that whole mindset’s changed. Today, the artform of wine is not really expressing the winemaker’s philosophy. It’s more expressing the vineyard into the wine. So it’s more [sort of] myself working with our vineyard manager Flo, and optimising the quality in the vineyard.

    NARRATOR: Flo is Floricious Beukes, Groot Constantia’s viticulturist. Here he is describing his role.

    FLORICIOUS: …The vineyards, the soil, the base where the plant is standing in… that is the viticulturalist’s department. To get healthy, beautiful grapes, taking it into the cellar; that’s my job. From there on, Boela will take over.

    BOELA: We’re trying to maximise the quality in the vineyard. And from there, y’know, once it’s in the vineyard we translate it into the cellar. Look after the vines and you’ll make magic wines.

    NARRATOR: Boela describes himself as a minimalist winemaker. He strives to express the character of the grapes that grow here, on the estate, and through them, the ways in which Groot Constantia’s environment makes its wine unique.

    This minimalist approach might sound easy, but to make wine that is full of natural subtleties, Boela actually has to keep a closer eye on how his wine develops. He also has to take a few more risks.

    BOELA: The problem with wine is… [it’s] there’s a lot of things you can’t actually control… like maleolactic fermentation… people still don’t really know what exactly makes it work and what doesn’t… It can really affect the quality and the style of your wine, so we need try and keep tabs on the micro and chemistry side of the wine.

    NARRATOR: Winemaking here is a process of constant measuring, testing and tasting. Boela keeps tabs on the wine through repeated chemical and micro analyses, to ensure that it doesn’t spoil, and only interferes if it’s absolutely necessary.

    Have you found location five yet? It’s long, with a row of illustrations on it. When you’re ready, select it from the list on your screen. We’re going to see what happens when grapes are brought into the cellar.

Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle