Philip Jonker

Owner & Cellar Master
Weltevrede Wine Estate
Philip Jonker from Weltevrede tells us about his harvest time abroud, sleeping in cars and why he loves Chardonnay.

Besides South Africa, where else have you made wine?
I have been lucky enough to make wine in both California and France. In our first year of marriage, my wife Lindelize and I went looking for adventure. We travelled around Europe through various wine regions before finally arriving in Napa.

How and where did you work in Napa Valley?
Well, we arrived with not much more on us than the name of the winery, Clos Du Val. We bought a little second-hand car, not only to get around with, but also to sleep in. We eventually found a lovely little flat in Napa and then commuted to the farm.

What was working for Clos du Val like?
I worked as a cellar hand and Lindelize worked in the tasting room. I learnt a great deal about winemaking from their winemaker Bernard Portet, especially about making Cabernet
Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Incidentally, on my first day at the farm a rattle snake was killed on the hose rack. How’s that for an introduction?

You worked in France first, though. How do conditions between the two places differ?
In France, work is done with a glass of wine in one hand, and each day the winery doors are shut during a lengthy lunch of baguettes, cheese (and more wine) under some shady trees. In France, grapes are only picked on weekdays and in California we  worked in shifts with grapes arriving at the winery 24 hours of the day, seven days a week.

You think the different harvest styles influence the end product?
I do think different outlooks on life can be tasted in wine. Almost in the way some people say from his or her wines you can judge the personality of a winemaker.

Where does SA fit in?
The South African wine style is said to be something between the styles of the old world and the new world. During our harvest time we also operate in a way that is possibly not completely French nor Californian, but something in between.

You returned to France recently, right?
Actually, we’ve been to France at various times, first travelling and tasting extensively, but on other trips also working in wineries. I did a vintage at Chateau La Dominique while Lindelize sorted berries in Saint-Emilion. Most recently, and thanks to our great team here at Weltevrede that can hold the fort while we are away, Lindelize and I did a home exchange in Burgundy.

What wine things did you do there?
We lived in the village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, between Beaune and Chablis, and where the movie Chocolat was filmed. I volunteered at the winery at the foot of the hill. Vignoble de Flavigny-Alésia allowed me to make two barrels of French Chardonnay. It was bottled the next year and we brought it to South Africa. We called it Weltevrede Le Terroir des Gaulois.

You have a bit of a thing for Chardonnay, don’t you?
Yes, I love making wine from the Chardonnay grape. In the past I have even made small lots of Chardonnay at Weltevrede on commission for international clients—in the way you
commission a painting or sculpture.

You’ve said Australia’s Bob Cartwright is your Chardonnay mentor.
I’ve gained valuable Chardonnay experience from Bob. He’s made Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay a benchmark wine of the Southern Hemisphere. It was great to see his excitement about the terroir and potential for Chardonnay on Weltevrede .

Why Chardonnay specifically?
The Chardonnay grape loves the calcareous soils and shale rock slopes in the area between Bonnievale and Robertson.

And your commitment to the community?
Weltevrede’s vision is to have a positive influence on the lives of those around us and to support meaningful efforts that build self-worth in the lives of children. For this purpose, 50 cents from every bottle of Weltevrede wine sold goes towards the Edge of Life Fund, a funding trust committed to making a difference in the lives of marginalised individuals living in mostly rural areas.


Philip, Lindelize and their two children live on Weltevrede. This year
the two celebrate twenty years since they got married under an old
oak tree on Lindelize’s family farm in the Karoo.

 

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