Bruce Jack - Chief Winemaker and Farmer

I grew up on Surfers' Corner in Cape Town, where I still surf. The son of an inspirational architect/city planner and gifted musician/writer, it was perhaps inevitable I'd become a farmer.

I grew up on Surfers' Corner in Cape Town, where I still surf. The son of an inspirational architect/city planner and gifted musician/writer, it was perhaps inevitable I'd become a farmer.

Growing up in Cape Town meant Table Mountain was my backyard. I spent a lot of time in the sea and in my backyard - not much time in the classroom. My first job was an early morning newspaper round before school. My first memorable food experience was tasting caviar for the first time on a Prep school rugby tour to the UK and loving the exotic texture and wild flavour. Fortunately, this predilection for expensive taste only rarely extends beyond food, wine and books - although my wife suggests that's bad enough.

The biggest advantage of growing up in Cape Town, however, was that I learnt the secret password for getting past the Pearly Gates from Mrs Jimba, my isiXhosa teacher. I am mildly surprised I didn't need to use that password on numerous occasions during my young adult life.

After various false, but highly enjoyable starts in academia, I eventually washed up down under at the Roseworthy Cellar, and the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Here, I learnt how to make wine - and Japanese dumplings. 

Hard, but happy yards followed - vineyard and cellar work all over the world. Extraordinarily fired up and brilliantly naive, I returned home in 1998 and simultaneously started a winery and a family. Anyone who has done this will tell you it is rather stupid. The winery is called Flagstone, and will always feel like one of my kids.

Flagstone was an early developer; with a strong character all of its own. It flew the coop in 2008, when it was sold to Constellation Brands.

Neither of my real children want to be winemakers, because they have seen that at some stage winemakers have to stop driving forklifts and spend many debilitating hours begging for money from banks. Banks can’t understand why they must lend you funds so you can reflect the truth of seasons and the soul of soil in a bottle of wine.

When Constellation sold various operations to Champ Private Equity in 2011, I remained on as Chief Winemaker for Accolade Wines South Africa.

So, I have a day job, with a corporate load of responsibilities and fascinating challenges. I work with some great people.

The Drift Farm is an education in generational thinking. It’s a family focus. Sometimes, it’s a frank reflection of personal failure. But the mistakes and disappointments are only the slippery steps up a beautiful mountain slope. This is farming, after all. When you pause for breath and look around at the view, the stumbling is forgotten. You realise, you are still going forward and upward for all the right reasons. What a privilege. Your eyes and nose and lungs are flooded with freshness and this seeps into your soul. Your weariness disappears. You feel more. You sense more. You can’t help smiling, and it starts in your heart. Life, and this clamorous endeavour called living, are put into perspective.

The Drift
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