Bertho van der Westhuizen

Alto, the iconic red wine producer in the Golden Triangle outside Stellenbosch, appointed Bertho van der Westhuizen to take over the reins from his well-known father, Schalk van der Westhuizen.

Bertho is one of three children of Schalk van der Westhuizen. He gained his BSc degree in viticulture and oenology at the University of Stellenbosch in 2002 and then spent his first harvest in 2003 with his father on Alto. In 2004 he joined Citrusdal Cellar, followed by a stint of 7 years as winemaker at Kleine Zalze. In 2012 he joined Boschendal where he was mainly responsible for red wine making until his appointment as Alto’s Winemaker.

“I have been very fortunate so far,” Bertho acknowledges. “At Citrusdal I not only learned about the ins and outs at a big commercial winery, but I was also deeply involved in the viticultural side of the business. At Kleine Zalze and Boschendal I was exposed to the activities of smaller wineries. This taught me a lot and gave me a very good perspective on the whole spectrum of viticultural and wine making responsibilities.”

Bertho says the fact that he started out in the vineyard before moving to the cellar stands him in very good stead and is the best way to learn. “A winemaker must have a feeling for the vineyard. The old adage that a good wine is made in the vineyard is very true and my knowledge and experience in the vineyard have so far helped me tremendously.”

The 35 year old winemaker is very proud to take over the reins from his father in the vineyard and cellar of one of South Africa’s foremost red wine producers.

The fact that he has to fill the rather big boots of his dad doesn’t concern him. “My dad has left deep tracks on Alto, and yes, they’re big boots to fill, but I know I can always rely on his advice and input. It will require passion, commitment and hard work to maintain his very high standards in both the vineyards and the cellar, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“Good enough was never good enough for him and, like him, I will always strive for perfection with every wine made in Alto’s cellar.”

Bertho is married to Mitzi and they have two children, Sara-May (4) and Schalk (19 months). He admits to being sport mad, just like his dad, and that rugby is his favourite sport. Furthermore, he never lets an opportunity pass to tackle dirt tracks on his mountain bike.