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Meet the 2015 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year finalists

Get to know a little more about the finalists of the 2015 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards and their wines:
Meet the 2015 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year finalists

Anthony de Jager
Wine: Primo Pinotage 2013
Region: Fairview

Anthony de Jager grew up in Knysna, completed winemaking studies at Elsenburg and joined Fairview as winemaker in December 1996. Since joining the Fairview farm he has been involved in many aspects of the business, including making Fairview's La Beryl straw wine and initiation of numerous single vineyard Shiraz', such as Beacon, Jakkalsfontein and Eenzaamheid.

He was involved with the first South African plantings of varieties like Petite Sirah and rediscovery of old vine Grenache and Carignan - currently used in Fairview's range as well as the evolution of the 'red blend' - seeing trends shift from Cabernet and Merlot blends to warm climate Shiraz-based Rhône-style blends.

He is a passionate outdoors person, which makes winemaking the perfect fit for him. He enjoys surfing and is a keen cyclist, spending most weekends on a bike in the mountains around Paarl. Anthony's previous winemaking experience includes working at Boland Cellar from 1989 - 1996 as well as harvests in California, the Rhone area and Sicilly.

Johan Jordaan


Wines: 21 Gables Pinotage 2012 and 2013
Region: Spier

Johan Jordaan was born in the small town of Rawsonville and grew up among the vineyards from the Breedekloof region. Vineyard and wine were imprinted in his DNA by his father who was a grape grower.

In 1997 Jordaan was formally introduced into the world of winemaking at Slanghoek winery where he was employed as cellar hand for the harvest. In 1999 he enrolled at Elsenburg to study winemaking and viticulture, receiving his qualification in 2002.

He re-established his working relationship with Slanghoek winery where he took the responsibility of red winemaker - a position he held for four-and-a-half years. He has produced wine in the Languedoc - Roussillon region in France and in the Napa valley at the prestigious estate of Duckhorn Wine Company.

His career highlights include producing wine at Spier Wines, and winning the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year in 2011. Jordaan is married to Lizanne who is also a winemaker. Together they are raising their little boy Jean and two dogs on the Spier farm where they reside.

Jeremy Borg


Wine: Guillermo Pinotage 2012
Region: Painted Wolf (Leeuwenkuil)

Borg describes himself as a passionate, slightly mad wine guy with a special interest in Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Rhone-style wines.

His wine career has been very varied having worked in the vineyard and cellar, in sales and marketing, wine wholesale and retail and brand development.

Winemaking is his third career, having initially trained to be an accountant. He opted out to follow his heart and became a chef for seven years before beginning a career in the wine industry as a sales rep for a distributor in San Francisco, California.

This led to a job in the cellar at Rosenblum Cellars where he worked for two years as a cellar hand. He spent a year working in the UK at Denbies Wine estate in both the vineyard and cellar and for the retailer Oddbins. In 1996 he joined Fairview - a stint that lasted for eight years. He studied viticulture and winemaking in California and also graduated with a Graduate Diploma in wine business from Adelaide University.

Borg began making small quantities of premium, hand-crafted wine in 2005 under the Borg Family label, from which the Painted Wolf Wine Company developed in 2007. He is currently the Managing Director and winemaker at the Painted Wolf Company.

Beyond his love for winemaking, Borg is mad about of wild African spaces, conservation, art, cycling, cooking and music.

Johann Fourie


Wine: The Mentors Pinotage 2013
Region: KWV

What do you get if you combine someone who has a deep interest in consumer tastes with a passion for making excellent wines that people want to drink? Johann Fourie is this person.

His interest in wine making began on a path that saw him graduate from Elsenburg/Cape Technikon with diplomas and degrees in Cellar Technology, Oenology and Agriculture.

His wine management and leadership skills were honed after a spell at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business and the University of Melbourne, where he added a certificate in Wine and Business Management and a Leadership Development qualification.

Four years at Badsberg, Rawsonville, saw him promoted to the position of Winemaker and he joined KWV in 2006. He was promoted to the position of Chief Winemaker in 2012, succeeding Richard Rowe.

He is now heading up one of the most dynamic young team of winemakers and viticulturists in South Africa, producing some of the country's most awarded wines.

Fourie has spent two winemaking seasons in France honing his winemaking skills and familiarising himself with developing international consumer tastes and wine styles. His experiences include spending time in all the French and European wine regions, as well as time spent in Canada, the US and Australia.

Margaux Nel


Wine: Tinta Barocca 2014
Region: Boplaas Family Vineyards

Nel was born in the small Klein Karoo village of Calitzdorp amongst fruit orchards, vines and her family's wine cellar. Her family's involvement in winemaking reaches as far back as 1880 and, according to her, it was inevitable that she would be involved in the wine industry.

In 2003 she enrolled for a BSc. in Oenology at Stellenbosch University and thereafter undertook a MSc. in Viticulture focusing on the terroir effect of Touriga Nacional in the Klein Karoo.

In 2009 the baton was passed on to her by her father and she took on the role of Cellar Master. In her tenure at Boplaas Family Vineyards she's crafted an award-winning Port and Sauvignon Blanc.

Nel is currently in charge of crafting sparkling white (Mèthode Cap Classique) and red table wines, pot still brandies and Family Reserve wines, to name but a few.

She and her partner share a cottage amongst the vines quite close to the cellar. In her down time she enjoys watching movies, mountain bike rides on the back roads around Calitzdorp and making green fig preserves. This year she enrolled for an MBA at Stellenbosch's Business School.

2015 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year - Finalists

Anné van Heerden


Wine: Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Region: Alvi's Drift

Van Heerden was born in Windhoek, Namibia and completed high school at Strand High School in Strand, Cape Town.

She began her winemaking adventure by enrolling for a Bachelors in Science in the field of Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch in 2005.

She has worked on several vintages including 2009 and 2010 at Vilafonte' with Phil Freese and the iconic Zelma Long. She worked as assistant winemaker at Perdeberg Cellar working with Albertus Louw and Riaan Moller followed by a second vintage with Sevilen Wines in Turkey.

She started out at Alvi's Drift Private Cellar as a Harvest assistant winemaker in 2013, and was promoted to winemaker last year.

Murray Barlow


Wines: Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2012, and Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2014
Region: Rustenberg Wines

Barlow was born into a family with a long history of winemaking with the Barlows having owned Rustenberg wines in Stellenbosch since 1941. After completing his undergraduate studies at Rhodes University, Barlow completed the 2009 and 2010 vintages at Rustenberg before reading his Masters in Oenology at the University of Adelaide in Australia, graduating in 2011 Cum Laude.

He returned to Rustenberg in November 2011 and is currently Cellarmaster. He has a passion for the industry and a keen interest in wine judging, graduating from the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy with distinction in 2015 and has judged as an associate in two competitions. Barlow also previously won the 2013 Diners Club Young Winemaker of The Year with the Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2012.

Philip Viljoen


Wines: Noble Late Harvest 2015 and Andre's Fame Colombard 2015
Region: Bon Courage Wine Estate

Viljoen studied at Elsenburg Agricultural College, Stellenbosch from 2011 - 2013. As part of an assignment he was tasked to take charge of his own cultivars - he received Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc. His lecturer entered the Sauvignon Blanc in the National Young Wine Show as it was noted as a successful wine with pleasing aromas and a tropical taste on the palate.

In 2014, Viljoen did his second harvest in Langhorne Creek, South Australia at Project Wine. He then joined Coonawarra Employment Agency, also in Australia, where he gained more experience in the vineyards. In May 2014 he had the opportunity to work in the Coonawarra Valley which is seen by many as the premium grape producing area in Australia.

Last year he joined the Dry Creek Vineyards in Sinoma Valley, US where he was part of the harvesting team. He gained experience in a variety of styles including Blanc Fume, which he grew a passion for.

His first harvest on Bon Courage Estate in 2015, was under the careful guidance of Jacques and André Bruwer who himself was a winner of the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award.

RJ Botha


Wine: Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Region: Kleine Zalze

RJ's mission is to make extraordinary wines and become a legendary winemaker. He describes himself as a bubbly and hard-working individual who enjoys cooking and winemaking. He also calls himself a "Sauvignon Blanc freak".

RJ started work straight out of varsity in December 2007 as winemaker for Nitida Cellars in Durbanville. He did two harvests in France, one at Chateau Angelus Premier Grand Cru in ST Emilion (World famous winery) in 2008 and the other for the Despagne Family in the Entre de Mers in Bordeaux in 2009 while working for Nitida.

This resulted in Nitida winning numerous awards at that time including being awarded the first and only five-Star Platter Wine out of Durbanville. He is also a recipient of the Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year in 2010. He is currently head winemaker at Kleine Zalze.

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