In celebration of Women's Month, we went in search of inspirational women on the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.
Meet Clarise Langeveldt, winemaker at Hazendal
Q: How many years have you been in the wine industry and part of the Stellenbosch Wine Route?
Post studies my first paying harvest was in 2007, so that would be 11 years now. I experienced various wine regions including Paarl, Stellenbosch, Marlborough (NZ), Napa & Temecula Valley (USA), Coonawarra (AUS) but finally settled down in Stellenbosch where I have been for 8 years.
Q: How did you get started in the wine business?
I actually wanted to become a nature conservationist but changed my course a few months before I was on my way to Stellenbosch. I studied Viticulture and Winemaking at Elsenburg, but luckily the nature of my job allows me to get outside and practice conservation in and around the vineyards as well. It was a win-win… I get to craft and drink wine whilst still spending time outside!
Q: Which wine was your "a-ha!" wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?
J.P. Bredell Shiraz (I think it was a 1998) My mom took me there for a tasting.
Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
Working with people who are passionate about what they do, who grab opportunities that present themselves and want to grow and better their future. I am a firm believer in education whether it be in training at work or sending workers to workshops etc. Investing in eager people creates a better outcome for everyone. And then the small things – cover crops sprouting after sowing, Vineyards budding in Spring, the smell of a healthy ferment in the cellar, a new barrel and after much patient waiting… the sensory experience of a finished wine. Hopefully, a job well done!
Q: If you weren't in the wine industry, what would you be doing?
Driving a Land Cruiser somewhere between Moremi and Savuti with a chilled MCC that I can enjoy anywhere I please…
Q: What advice would you give to young women considering the wine industry as a profession?
Start at the bottom, scrub floors, tanks, clean pumps work with cellar equipment… make sure you know how the equipment works… because let’s be honest, unless your father owns a farm... you probably don’t know. Check your ego, be humble and learn as much as you can. If you make time to learn to do things men can already do, they might just respect you more.
Q: If you could open a bottle of wine and share it with three people, who will it be?
Thuli Madonsela, Kingsley Holgate, Brian Johnson
Q: What do you think makes Stellenbosch Wine Route unique compared to other wine regions?
Diversity in almost every aspect - terroir, wine styles, cultures and culinary offerings.
Q: What is your go-to bottle of wine?
I made a 400L Barrel Cape White Blend for home consumption (old barrel). But my husband and I finished it… ☹ Note to self: make another House Wine… For now… we experiment with different wines.
Q: What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I Listen to VERY LOUD MUSIC! And singing along just elevates the experience…
Hazendal is undergoing extensive renovations and restorations at the moment and they are hard at work for reopening in late 2018. Follow them and look forward to exciting changes!