“Being in the wine industry is about business; staying in the wine industry is about passion.”
The combination of science and creativity that goes into wine-making was the “yes moment” that ignited Elgin Vintners winemaker, business manager and newest shareholder Marinda Kruger-Claassen’s passion for the industry.
She grew up in Port Elizabeth, far from the winelands, but with a love of science and soil – selling vegetables to her mother from her own garden from a young age – along with a creative bent for “making things and building things”.
Armed with a BSc in Food Science, wine entered her world in her first job as quality manager of a large international wine company, where “the wine-making process had me hooked from day one”.
“I understood the science and the logic of the process, and then I saw the impact of the winemaker on the process, the creativity that is applied, and how you can experience that effect in the end product.
“That was absolutely amazing for me – I knew I had found my niche.”
A woman with an ever-inquiring mind who believes in grabbing every opportunity that life offers – “even half an opportunity” – she started studying wine-making, achieving her Master’s in Viticulture and Oenology, and moved from her lab job into a wine-making role, travelling the world and experiencing harvests and wine-making in Europe and Australia.
“I feel very privileged for that exposure, and the springboard that it gave me.”
She had long been interested in the Elgin Valley – “an underrated area, with its cool-climate, so different to the rest of South Africa as a warm region, and its interesting wine-making potential”.
“When the opportunity to work at Elgin Vintners came along, it was not even a question for me, I just grabbed it. As a winemaker, it is a highpoint for me to work in an appellation that’s absolutely unique, and that gives me the opportunity to do more research and to experiment.”