The Proust Q&A: Craig Hawkins

23rd January, 2014 by Lucy Shaw

One of South Africa’s brightest stars, Craig Hawkins (one of our 30 winemakers under 40 to watch) is chief winemaker at organic Swartland estate Lammershoek. The 31-year-old also makes natural wines under his own Testalonga label, including El Bandito, an old bush vine Chenin Blanc and the zero sulphur Cortez Chenin Blanc, which spends two years on its lees. Hawkins lives in the Swartland with his girlfriend Carla and two dogs.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Those few seconds after you receive great news and before you have time to fully register it.

What is your greatest fear? 

That I might not actually live forever.

Who do you most admire?

American comic Jack Handey.

What is your greatest extravagance?

The sound system in the cellar.

What is your current state of mind? 
Calm after a few weeks holiday on the coast pretending that I had no phone reception, enabling me to ignore anyone I didn’t care to listen to.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

Intelligence.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

If we’re talking about wine speak, “acidity” would be up there.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Hans and Snoopy, my two Boerboel dogs – just joking Carla.

When and where were you happiest?

At a place called “Allstars” in Stellenbosch at about 4am when I was 19. My best friend was on the other side of the dance floor and I was yelling at to him to look, and apparently my pants were around my ankles while I was dancing. The next day everybody said I looked the “happiest they’d ever seen me”, so I guess it would have to be then.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be able to breathe underwater.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Finally getting to grips with Pinotage and changing the thoughts of people that I thought were unchangeable. That and getting my first 100m swimming badge.

Where would you most like to live?

On a farm in the Swartland surrounded by animals, mountains and vines.

What is your most treasured possession?

The suitcase full of dreams under my bed.

What is your most marked characteristic?

A white patch of hair on the side of my head.

Who are your favourite writers?

Jack Handey; there can be only one.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Howard Roark, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

What is it that you most dislike?

Stupid clever people.

What is your greatest regret?

Not living in the 1700’s – it must have been a wonderful time for exploration and enlightenment of both mind and country. I would have tried to stop the exploitation of Africa; who knows where this continent would be now if that had happened. I’d love to be around when they invent time travel – imagine traveling back in time with something as simple as Google.

What is your motto?

“It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what wines would you serve them?

I’d invite Jesus as I’d love to see what wine he turns water into and how it would taste. I bet he wouldn’t use new oak. Also in the mix would be Richard Dawkins as any wine Jesus makes could be an interesting conversation starter. Finally, there would be Karl Marx, who I’d serve a natural wine to, because all wines are equal.

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