Interview: Lourens van der Westhuizen of Arendsig
By Christian Eedes, 8 September 2015
From the September issue of Business Day WANTED: Now 34, Lourens van der Westhuizen studied viticulture and oenology as well as pomology at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute. In 2003, he worked a harvest at Glen Carlou while the acclaimed David Finlayson was still there before heading to California to gain work experience. Upon his return, he asked his doubtful dad Frikkie to let him have a few small parcels of vines on the family’s Robertson farm to experiment with and in 2004 Arendsig Wines was born.
He is married to Lizelle and they are parents to twin daughters, Maria and Sofia. They live on Arendsig with a St Bernard called Boerseun and a cat called Meisie.
Do you think Robertson gets ignored by the wine media?
When it comes to our amazing range of terroir, yes. We have a reputation for cheap ‘n cheerful but there are definitely sites capable of greatness.
Most people associate Robertson with Chardonnay and Shiraz but you believe Cab has a big future ahead of it. Why?
If you look at the huge diversity in climate, aspect, geology and soils, there are pockets suited to a wide array of different varieties. One of the many is Cabernet Sauvignon
You vinify on contract for a few other small producers. Tell us about them and which of their wines to look out for.
I make wine for Jan Harmsgat, Esona, Exidiem, Rivergold, Tanangra, Sumsare and Mimosa. All these wines are done according to my philosophy about crafting wine. It’s about locating different terroirs and then minimal interference in the winery. The difference between the wines comes down to the uniqueness of each site.
You worked a season with David Finlayson while he was still at Glen Carlou. What was that like?
Amazing to learn from one of the true creatives in the industry.
What has been your most memorable wine experience?
A research trip to Clos Martinet in Spanish region of Priorat.
You’re into mountain biking. What’s the appeal?
Enjoying nature with good mates
What make of bike do you have?
Scott Spark 910, Dual Suspension.
You’ve ridden the Trans Karoo, a one-day endurance event over 240km. Was that the toughest yet?
No there are the Attakwas from Oudtshoorn to Great Brak – 124km long with a 2 900m ascent – and the Trans Baviaans – 230km long with a 2 540m ascent – are both more extreme.
You’re father to twin daughters. What has parenthood taught you? How has life changed?
How important family is. It comes with fantastic moments but it’s also a lesson in responsibility.
What is your ideal food pairing with the Arendsig Cab?
Sunday braai with lamb “tjops” with a side salad and good company!