Ernst Gouws of Ernst Gouws & Co

South African Country Life - - Future Watch -

Not all wine­mak­ers have vast es­tates and old fam­ily vine­yards in which to work. There are many very tal­ented wine­mak­ers who source their fruit from all over the place and keep a metic­u­lous eye on what they are mak­ing. Some­times called ‘bou­tique’ wine­mak­ers be­cause their wines are usu­ally made in smaller quan­ti­ties than the big boys, they nev­er­the­less de­liver ex­cel­lent wines which are much soughtafter by dis­cern­ing wine drinkers. One of the very best of these is Ernst Gouws, who has been mak­ing wine in the Stel­len­bosch area for many years. Start­ing small, he and his wife Gwenda formed the com­pany 15 years ago and it now pro­duces more than 200 000 bot­tles of the good stuff each year. To­day he sells his wine in Ger­many and France (cheeky!) as well as in his na­tive coun­try to an ea­ger and grow­ing num­ber of fans. He be­lieves in the French phi­los­o­phy that the qual­ity of the grape is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to the ter­roir from which it grows, and trav­els all over the West­ern Cape to hand­pick his grapes. He says about the vine­yards from where he sources the fruit, “I walk them, I live them, al­ways among them – from bud to Fall.” This very fo­cused ap­proach has re­sulted in some su­perb wines at prices that won’t make your eyes wa­ter.

This tal­ented, af­fa­ble man is the epit­ome of what the Ger­mans call Gemütlichkeit, which in this con­text, for me at least, means ‘big hearted’. Though born and bred in Paarl, he cred­its his love of wine to the in­flu­ence of his fa­ther and a fam­ily friend Gün­ter Brözel ,who was the cel­lar mas­ter at Neder­burg for many years. In 1975, an en­thu­si­as­tic Ernst was sent to Ger­many by his fa­ther with strict in­struc­tions not to re­turn un­til he had mas­tered the art of mak­ing fine wine. While in Weins­berg (re­ally!) he so missed his child­hood sweet­heart Gwenda that he in­vited her to visit, which she did with alacrity. In true fairy-tale fash­ion the two “fell madly in love” and im­me­di­ately got hitched – in Ger­many. To­day, 40 years later, their two daugh­ters and son – all wine­mak­ers – form an in­te­gral part of the Gouws op­er­a­tion. This alone is com­mend­able as there are not many fam­i­lies who can work to­gether with­out some­one get­ting in­jured in the process. The next gen­er­a­tion is wait­ing in the wings – the re­sult should be re­ally in­ter­est­ing. To quote Ernst, “Wine has been around for­ever and will be here long af­ter we are gone.” I’ll drink to that.

Taste and buy his wines at Koe­len­hof in Stel­len­bosch or buy on­line at www.ern­st­

“Wine has been around for­ever and will be here long af­ter we are gone

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