Ernst Gouws of Ernst Gouws & Co
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.ernstgouws.co.za
“Wine has been around forever and will be here long after we are gone