Nestled in the Citrusdal Mountains, some 50 kilometres north of Swartland, is the magnificent Piekenierskloof plateau, which provides the perfect natural environment for vineyards to thrive. At 750 meters above sea level, the plateau’s climate is characterised by warm days and cool nights, which allow grapes to ripen slowly and develop complex fruit flavours. It is in these mountains where brothers Oubaas and Potgieter van Zyl are guardians to a wealth of old vine gems, amongst others the Bergendal Chenin Blanc and Muscat de Frontignan planted in 1962, the Grenache Noir in 1973 and the Cinsault vineyard planted in 1976. These bush vine vineyards are un-irrigated and planted on their own roots in sandy, loam soils where they produce between 2 to 4 tonnes per hectare. The Van Zyl’s are one of the pioneering families of the Piekenierskloof ward and are now, together with sister Mientjie, the driving force behind Piekenierskloof Wine Company.
Newly appointed General Manager and Winemaker, Jaco van Niekerk, hails from two families with deeply rooted farming traditions. The decision to become a winemaker was therefore a natural progression and one which allows him to express his love for nature as well as his convivial personality daily. Since graduating from the University of Stellenbosh with a degree in Viticulture and Winemaking in 2004, he has honed his winemaking skills in estate wineries, amongst which Boschendal and Seidelberg in South Africa, Chateau Chasse-Spleen in Bordeaux as well as Simi in California. Additionally, he spent 7 years as wine maker at Lutzville Vineyards’ 48000 ton winery on South Africa’s West coast, which gave him invaluable large scale winemaking experience. As a regular visitor to winemaking regions across the world, he has kept abreast of the latest developments in oenology as well as wine styles of the world, and has forged lasting relationships with clients and consumers alike.
With this background, paired with his energetic and positive attitude, he is set to build on the foundation laid by his predecessors in order to position Piekenierskloof Wine Company as one of the leading wineries of the South African wine landscape – prominent because of remarkable quality, but also because of a unique experience of South African culture.