We sat down in our NYC office with Renier van Deventer to discuss wine, travel and future ambitions. Cape Classics awarded Renier the Indaba Scholarship in 2010 for an honors oenology program, a 1-year master’s degree at Stellenbosch University, South Africa that he successfully completed in 2011.
Where did your interest in wine develop? I’ve always had an interest in science, though originally it was geared towards the medical field. I started working at De Grendel Wines in South Africa as a side job while I studying for my undergraduate degree; there the “wine bug” bit me and I put medicine aside.
What’s the most interesting aspect of winemaking for you? All the smells and tastes of the earth. I used to walk through the herb gardens as a child and crush herbs just to smell and taste the differences. It’s in my nature to do that, and leads me to never want to stop tasting wines.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? I believe many in the winemaking industry have become too status driven. You can be good at what you do but it doesn’t mean you can’t stay humble. I would like to see more winemakers pay credit to nature for all it provides us.
What’s your ultimate goal? I always say I want to make wine and sell it myself. I want to create approachable and affordable wines and be out there marketing them. Winemaking doesn’t end when the juice is in the bottle. I also want my occupation to have philanthropic meaning outside of wine. Using Cape Classics for example, and being on the Indaba Scholarship, you made a huge difference in my life. I would like to work to that point where I am able to make such a difference in people’s lives.
What wine excites you the most? Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite. The acidity, freshness and crispness remind me of summer year round, and I’m a summer guy. There’s so much you can do with Sauvignon to create different styles, which is also why it goes with anything foodwise.