Interview With A Winemaker – Jacques Huysamer

12th April 2024

Interview With A Winemaker Jacques Huysamer

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this feature we speak with Jacques Huysamer, an amazing Winemaker from England, currently the Assistant Winemaker & Production Manager at New Hall Wine Estate, let’s discover a little about his time in the English Wine Industry.

Tell Us About Yourself And How You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?

“I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, right in the heart of the Stellenbosch Winelands. Initially, I never thought of becoming a winemaker, I didn’t really know what I wanted and still needed to find my passion. I loved numbers and thought becoming an accountant would be a good idea. I realised I was too much of a busybody to sit in an office the whole day and decided to go and see which courses the University of Stellenbosch had available. I saw Viticulture & Oenology (winemaking) was an option and immediately found an interest in it. I studied Viticulture & Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch from 2016-2020.

Thus far I have gained 5 years’ experience and this ranges from wineries doing 300 tonnes to 7 000 tonnes. All my experience was gained in South Africa and I have just finished my 1st vintage in the UK.”

As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?

“My hardest obstacle was most definitely working at my bulk wine cellar, where I did 7,000 tonnes. It was obviously a massive leap from the 300 tonnes I did the year prior.

The main reason it was so challenging, is because I was thrown in the deep end. I had to manage a cellar team of 30 people during harvest and worked with massive volumes of wine. I was responsible for maintaining the quality of more than 5 million litres of wine. This all seemed very daunting and quite a lot of responsibility for a newly graduated winemaker.

But if I could do it all over again, I would! It taught me a lot about myself and I also had the privilege to have been able to work under 2 amazing winemakers which I learned a lot from. They have helped me grow into the winemaker I am today.

We were faced with many obstacles but always approached them with logic and practical reasoning, something I pride myself on today.”

How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?

“I obviously love to taste wine, as it is a perk of the job!

I am constantly patrolling the tanks around the winery from harvest to bottling, tasting them and keeping track of how the wine develops. One thing that the public sometimes forgets, is that wine is a living product, so it changes daily. Even the smallest change in a wine’s chemical composition can alter the aromas or flavours.

As a wine matures, it becomes rounder and smoother. This is due to many characteristics marrying and ultimately producing the finished product. I believe the wine is ready when it has reached this level. The only way to track this is to constantly taste your wine!”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“My favourite part of the job is the period leading up to bottling. This is the time when I can be creative and have a go at blending! Blending does not always imply the mixing of cultivars, but also blending different tanks of the same cultivar.

I am currently based at New Hall Wine Estate in Essex, and I am fortunate enough to have a lot of heritage here! They are known for being one of the oldest vineyards in the country and also for introducing traditional method sparkling wine to the UK. We have 7 plots of Bacchus ranging from new plantings to the oldest Bacchus in the country, so this gives us the opportunity to make some fantastic wines.

So when blending comes around, we have many plots and tanks to choose from and make up a final product of the most premium quality.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“Without a doubt, it has to be the Lagoon of Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate. They take you out on a pontoon boat on the Lagoon, where you can enjoy some of their fantastic bubbly. To share a glass with friends or family on this boat, with breathtaking views is definitely my favourite spot! When the water is calm, it almost seems like you are sailing on a mirror!”

Thank you Jacques, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Jacques Huysamer. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.