Interview With A Winemaker – Jurgen Meyer

14th April 2023

Interview With A Winemaker Jurgen Meyer

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 article we speak with Jurgen Meyer, an amazing Winemaker from Western Cape, South Africa, let’s discover a little about his time in the Wine Industry.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I’m Jurgen Meyer 17 years in the Wine Industry and I describe myself as a humble person and grateful for everything, although as we know life is full of challenges but from my side, I take everything on with a Positive mindset because that is where my growth it’s not always easy but worth the effort at the end of the day. I also believe in doing more than what is expected at the end you as a person learn more and  there is a quote that goes like this – What you put in you will get out.”

How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?

“To be honest my story is like the following I started as a General Worker at Distell Berg elder Winery in Stellenbosch so basically, I came from Nothing to become Something in the Wine Industry. When I got the opportunity to work in the Cellar the Wine Bug Bit me and the rest was history. I work very hard and was always passionate about the Chemical factor and Human factors of how wine was made. So I said to myself I’m in it to WIN it, I set my goals every year I did every course I could get hold of to help me and push me in the direction and person I am today I did all courses through SA Wine training I’m a PROUD PRODUCT of the AB. I BELIEVE TODAY IS NOT WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT YOU BUT WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT YOURSELF that determines the outcome and I’m not even done yet, I am a living sacrifice for Cellar workers that don’t believe in themselves I want to show the cellar workers today anything is possible and I’m a living Testimony so do not give up THERE IS OPPORTUNITIES JUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!”

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

“Answer: Growing Conditions

I will say for surely growing conditions with each year climate conditions change because of Global warming, and it makes it challenging the basic factors that play a major role are climate, Vineyard’s location, Vineyard slope, Slope direction, Soil properties and all farm practices that are done throughout the season in the vineyard.

One example is that Grapevines do best with the full sun about 7 – 8 hours a day less sunlight will lead to a lower fruit quality, increase in rot and powdery mildew, Grapevines also grow well in a wide range of soils but good drainage is very important.

Damage of powdery mildew – leaves will completely turn yellow, leaves buckle, die and fall off.

Grape rot – This fungus can infect the berries, shoots, leaves, tendrils and cluster stems this can be devastating and can result in complete crop losses.”

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

“It all depends on what type of wine style you are dealing with there are a lot of factors we specialized in premium wines at Oldenburg vineyards each process is critical.

The most crucial factors before releasing wine are to make sure your wine is Protein Stability wine, the process to limit Haze Formation to Maintain Product Integrity.

Tartrate Stability there are potassium salts of tartaric acid that occur naturally in wine, this is just the chemical side before the wine is ready to drink.

The most important factor that plays a major role is the HUMAN FACTOR, the instinct that determines when you put your wine on the market at the right time, but it differs from wine to wine, some wines need added time, so you have to determine what your wine is saying to you and respect it.

1. Appearance to check the colour and to check if the wine is clear in glass.
2. Aromatic profile notes that show you the wine’s phenolic profile.
3. Sniff – Smell the wine, what you scents you can isolate?
4. Sip – Taste the wine with all the components like tannin, acid, flavour and more.

So when the wine passes all these steps it’s ready to drink, white wine is normally drunk younger than red wine because red wine has more tannins than white wine does, and over years of aging it softens and gets smoother so then the wine is much more balanced and drinkable.”

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

“From harvesting grapes till the end of Fermentation.”

“I like the harvesting process the most till the grapes are done, Fermentation is a crucial part of the winemaking process where there are a lot of methods and techniques and steps that are applied and each step is critical. So this is where the Chemical part plays a major role. At Oldenburg vineyards, we do mostly Wild fermentation and another term Spontaneous Fermentation where the Microflora that is on the skins of the grape that comes from the vineyards activates the fermentation but you have to have quality grapes which is very important, not every Winery does it, you have to have time for it, but if you can do it your wine will be much more complex and it will enhance the structure of your wine. But lastly and never the fewer PEOPLE I’m in the Industry to help and uplift anyone that wants to achieve something in life by inspiring them to appreciate working with wine and to Celebrate the South African Wine Industry on an International level. Like I always say, if you can help and build people your people will build your Company!! Cheers!”

Thank you Jurgen, 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 Jurgen Meyer. 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.