Director of Winemaking
Frans K Smit
Frans Smit has harnessed more than three centuries of winemaking tradition to transform Spier into a top award-winning wine producer. ‘Respect what the vineyard hands you’ is our Cellar Master’s mantra. Having grown up on a grape farm in the Northern Cape, becoming master of the barrel was the next logical step. Besides exploring great wines, Frans enjoys wandering about in territories not even 4G can reach. He is a member of the esteemed Cape Winemakers Guild.
Respect what the vineyard hands you.
A man of few words, but many eloquent wines, Jacques made his first wine when he was just a kid, using Chenin Blanc grapes found on his parents’ farm near Worcester. At Spier, he now makes Chenin from 40-year-old Chenin vineyards, creating a wine in our 21 Gables range that has attracted a flock of golds. Jacques’s Creative Block 2 is another triumph in his quiver. A harmony of tastes and flavours, assembled from a handful of vineyard blocks, the 2014 vintage earned him the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award.
Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.
Senior red winemaker
After studying winemaking at the prestigious Elsenburg Agricultural College and spending several years at Slanghoek Winery, Johan Jordaan joined Spier in 2007. He oversees the crafting of Spier’s red wines, including his favourite varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. Johan takes inspiration from the Old World to craft wines of remarkable finesse, nuance and elegance. He’s proudest of the 21 Gables Cabernet Sauvignon. Clearly the critics agree: the 2014 vintage won Platinum at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards in London and Double Platinum at the National Wine Challenge Top 100 SA Wines the same year.
It’s my job to ensure there’s not a single jarring note that the entire process is a harmonious one.
Senior red winemaker
Johan de Villiers
For Johan de Villiers – Spier’s Wine Procurement Manager – a passion for wine was almost inevitable. His passion for all things vinous sprouted in his childhood when, growing up on a grape farm on the banks of the Orange River, he would often visit the local wine cellar with his father. This Stellenbosch University graduate worked at three cooperative wineries before joining the Spier winemaking team in 2002. For Johan, the best part of his job is tasting the final product with customers or friends and family. His favourite varietal to work with is Sauvignon Blanc. “It’s a challenging grape because it’s very sensitive to terroir influences and delicate to handle during picking and winemaking,” he says. “When you get it right, though, the result is immensely rewarding.”
One of the beautiful things about the wines we make at Spier is how diverse they are in terms of style, taste and character.
“My aim is to get the very best out of every site that Spier sources grapes from,” explains Bennie Liebenberg, Spier’s viticulturist. “What we do in the vineyard can significantly impact the wine’s ultimate quality.” Bennie grew up in Paarl, and studied at the University of Stellenbosch. Since graduating, he has worked in dozens of vineyards including those which provide grapes for Nederburg, Pongrácz and Fleur du Cap wines. He joined the Spier winemaking team in July 2019. Bennie doesn’t have a favourite grape – the sheer diversity of the varietals in his care makes his job exciting. “Every area is different, and every cultivar is unique. I enjoy everything; I don’t get bored.”
Custodianship of the land is key.
Spier’s organic winemaker
Tania Kleintjes joined Spier in 2007 and has been Spier’s organic winemaker since 2016. In this role, she oversees the entire organic winemaking process – from harvest, production to bottling – as well as managing accreditation and compliance. “I want my wines to be an authentic and fulsome expression of terroir,” she says. “This means having a light touch in the cellar – I don’t believe in obsessively polishing or tinkering.” Although South Africa’s natural and organic wine market is relatively small still, Tania predicts a bright future ahead. “Consumers are becoming more and more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies and are keen to have more great-tasting natural options,” she says.
I want my wines to be an authentic and fulsome expression of terroir.