Boela Gerber Groot Constantia

Boela Gerber has become a rock star of winemaking. Image: Groot Constantia

Meet Boela Gerber, the master behind the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc

Winemaking is a craft some succeed in but few truly excel in. Groot Constantia’s Boela Gerber falls squarely into the latter category.

Boela Gerber Groot Constantia

Boela Gerber has become a rock star of winemaking. Image: Groot Constantia

Boela Gerber has committed two decades to the legendary estate and his wine is recognised for its premium excellence.

His Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vintages have received national and international acclaim in past years. More recently, his 2019 Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc was named the world’s best at the 2020 International Wine Challenge (IWC). 

Making fine wine is like making music

The wine industry is well aware of his talent and the many trophies he’s won for Groot Constantia since 2001, but sadly most of the country and the wider world’s wine fraternity are not.

It is a travesty, if only because this talent is right under our noses. We should all be toasting the genius that not only lingers in the bottle, but celebrating the man who makes the magic happen.

In short, Boela Gerber is a rock star. Yes, more of a songwriter than a frontman, continuously and passionately honing his craft. But my word, the tasting notes this man scripts should surely not only be heard through the grapevine.

Boela Gerber part of SA’s winemaking elite

South Africa has a small band of heroes when it comes to winemaking, of which Boela Gerber is one. His commitment to excellence, along with a team of like-minded and passionate people, resulted in something fundamental at the IWC.

“It doesn’t happen too often, no,” Gerber humbly pointed out. 

Stories of wine and music are inextricably intertwined. No two vintages are the same, just as each song is unique; captured in a moment. With so many variables on both fronts, no formula dictates success. 

Success breeds success, Gerber says

Boela Gerber Groot Constantia
Boela Gerber has been Groot Constantia’s winemaking talisman for two decades. Image: Groot Constantia

“The upside for us, however, was the timing,” Gerber said about the estate’s international honour.

“With our abundant COVID reality and subsequent negativity, winning this award was great for the farm. The morale of the whole team lifted and it was a reminder to us all that what we do truly matters.

“Ironically, I was in the vineyard this [week], picking Sauvignon Blanc, and I could see just how recommitted the team is in working through the pain of picking optimal fruit and delivering quality batches to the press.

“An award like this is a great reinforcer, no question. Success breeds success,” Gerber said. “We were excited when we bottled the 2019 [Sauvignon Blanc], but when we bottled 2020, my team and I went, this one’s even better! If not as good, even better.”

Every winemaker’s interpretation is unique

If you give the same sheet of music to two conductors the result will always be different. Wine is no different, Gerber said.

“If you offer the same block [of grapes] to two different winemakers, you’ll realise a very different outcome or singular result, so there’s room for interpretation in there, something which I relish.”

Each listener interprets the same piece of music in an entirely different way. The same applies to wine.

“The late professor Joel van Wyk once said to a group of us that a particular wine show, with a particular panel, is only relevant to a particular moment,” Gerber said. “You give the same wine to the same panel the next day and your result will be different.”

White wine has more room for error

Groot Constantia
Groot Constantia’s 2019 Sauvignon Blanc was globally acknowledged as the best there is. Image: Groot Constantia

Many variables influence the ultimate experience, but true quality and commitment to craft ride above of that. This is a testament to Boela Gerber’s 2019’s Sauvignon Blanc, which is now sold out.

“Creating great wine, regardless of the varietal, is always demanding,” Gerber admitted. “There are a few more variables for red wine if only because with reds you ferment them on the skins. So, it’s time on the skins; fermentation — it’s all in how you extract it, which makes it all a lot more capricious.”

“White wine, however, is a 100-metre dash with a lot more room for error. There is a lot of planning. White wine is made within 48 hours. There is a long lead-up to it, mind you, followed by fermentation and blending, but there are a lot of crucial decisions that need to be made for your gameplan to be realised.”

Boela Gerber aiming for another number one

Again, a lot like writing the perfect pop song. Structure, melody, lyrics and a middle-eight that lingers long after the chorus has faded. 

With white wine you can’t hide anything. It’s an unadulterated expression of a vintage. And with that you create a legacy, intentional or otherwise.

That’s the story of Boela Gerber and his passion for perfection. His 2019 Sauvignon Blanc was globally acknowledged as the best there is, but that’s not enough for this pioneering winemaker. He is back in the vineyard, hellbent on harvesting an even better vintage and with it, hopefully another number one smash hit.

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