Walker Bay winery Hermanuspietersfontein (HPF) has appointed Wilhelm Pienaar, latterly in charge of red-wine making at Nederburg, to replace Bartho Eksteen from vintage 2015.
Wilhelm is the son of Wouter Pienaar, long-time cellarmaster at former Stellenbosch Farmers Winery during the 1980s and 1990s, who went on to consult in Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Hungary. But the second-generation vintner came to wine autonomously. Working in Denmark during his gap year at a wine importer’s warehouse, it was exposure to the world’s wines and the vast array of tastes, expressions and cultures of which wine is capable that finally won him over to winemaking.
After a Stellenbosch University viticulture and winemaking degree, followed by an MSc in viticulture, Wilhelm spent four years at Distell’s dedicated sparkling-wine cellar, House of JC le Roux, in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. He then returned overseas for a multi-disciplinary MSc at Montpellier SupAgro in France, covering international viticulture, winemaking, wine business and wine marketing. Back in South Africa he spent five years as head of red-wine making at Nederburg under cellarmaster Razvan Macici.
While his overseas stints also included hands-on work as everything from harvest assistant to seasonal winemaker, Wilhelm's time at Nederburg gave him experience with up to 25 different red-wine varieties from an array of different sites.
Hermanuspietersfontein’s cellar, at the entrance to the Hemel-en-Aarde winegrowing valley near Hermanus, focuses on Bordeaux and Rhône-style blends, and on sauvignon blanc. Grapes are sourced mainly from parcels in the cool-climate wine ward, Sunday’s Glen, between Stanford and Elim. The vineyards are owned by Johan and Mariette Pretorius, also co-proprietors (with Gerrie Heyneke) of HPF.
Bartho Eksteen, HPF winemaker since inception, is devoting himself full-time to the Paarl-based Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Wine Academy and his own-label wines.