Anneke du Plessis

Winemaker: Fortified Wines & Bulk wines
KWV Classic Collection
Winemaker : Roodeberg

On Sundays, when the family drank wine, Anneke’s mother taught her to smell each one. “I was fascinated by how many different flavours you got out of one glass,” she says. It had to be destiny that as some one with such vivid memories of her wine upbringing, Anneke would eventually become involved in the making of a wine as renowned as Roodeberg. This famous KWV brand has been a part of South Africa’s wine heritage since 1949, beloved on home soil as much as it is on tables in foreign continents too. Across the world, the wine has been part of memorable occasions – from intimate gatherings to grand presidential inaugurations – so easily recalled with the opening of each bottle.

But it took a while for Anneke to come around to the wine industry, first studying marketing and sales at Tygerberg College (today known as Northlink College). After nine years of sales and marketing however, she decided to enrol at Elsenburg Agricultural College. Her winemaking career officially started in 2004 as an assistant winemaker at Mont Rochelle Mountain Vineyards in Franschhoek. Her passion for red grapes has lead to the speciality she pursues at KWV, working on red and fortified wines. “Red winemaking is very rewarding, because you have to ensure good colour and extraction as you work the grapes to their full potential.” Anneke’s ambition is to test and make a wine from a cultivar not yet tried in South Africa and one day hopes also to try her hand at Méthode Cap Classique. Working in a team that produces strongly innovative ideas and interesting lines of thought, Anneke feels the KWV wines will be come increasingly well-known for their quality and that they are likely to garner quite a few awards in the process.

Her biggest challenge so far was moving from a boutique wine cellar to an internationally renowned enterprise. “It is such a privilege to work for a company with a very rich history and to be in a position to blend vintage fortifieds that are older than I am.” Indeed, where it applies to her involvement with Roodeberg, Anneke is member of an auspicious line-up of winemakers who have been responsible for the famous Roodeberg since it was first developed. It was in the 1940s, through the work of wine pioneers Dr Abraham Izak Perold and then Dr Charles Niehaus that the germination of Roodeberg first began.

Dr Niehaus retired in 1971 having left an indelible mark on the South African wine industry. Today, his work is celebrated not only as a part of KWV heritage, but through a premium, world-class red blend that is produced in his honour, bears his name and joins Roodeberg on the international stage. The torch Dr Niehaus first lit has been borne ever since by a string of great winemakers. Anneke proudly bears this tradition, with her favourite time of the year being harvest time. And the best part of the job?

“Tasting red wine as it develops in the barrel,” she declares.