Top 10 South African winemakers to watch

1: Craig Hawkins, Testalonga

Topping our list of hot shots to watch is envelope-pushing enfant terrible Craig Hawkins, chief winemaker of organic Swartland estate Lammershoek. Born in KwaZulu-Natal, the ever-ambitious Hawkins also makes daring natural wines under his own Testalonga label, founded in 2008, including El Bandito old bush vine Chenin Blanc.

Inspired by the skin contact wines of Friuli and Slovenia, the wine spends six weeks on its skins before being aged in French oak for two years, while his zero sulphur Cortez Chenin Blanc spends two years on its lees. The result is a pair of inimitable wines with a wild nature, bold aromatics and rich flavours. Hawkins’ ultimate goal is to work biodynamically. “I’m an idealist, so I‘m drawn to the purity of natural wine,” he says.

Before Lammershoek, Hawkins spent four years working for the Swartland’s spiritual leader Eben Sadie and travelling around Europe, working harvests at Sadie’s Priorat property Dits del Terra and Niepoort in Portugal. He also has a side project making Blaufränkisch for Dirk Niepoort’s Austrian venture Muhr-van der Niepoort. “I like to challenge people’s ideas of what they believe wine should be; I’m constantly searching for new ways of doing things,” he says.

5 Responses to “Top 10 South African winemakers to watch”

  1. SpellingNazi says:

    Might I suggest a quick edit to correct the spelling mistake in the first line…? ConTstantia? Really?

  2. Diederik le Grange says:

    I think this article should have headed ‘…Swartland’.. There is more variety out there, I don’t think the author thought that over.

  3. Dusan Jelic says:

    I know personally 5 of these 10 guys. I think you did a great job and your article shows an important part of the power young lions have in the South African wine scene. Of course there are more to mention, but still, kudos for your kind effort! Cheers!

  4. Andre says:

    You wrote a decent article, but don’t quote Neil Pendock in relation to South African wine.

    Comment moderated – Admin.

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