South Africa's first winemaking 'Master of Wine', not bad for a man from Sheffield.
- Richard was a special find – just 322 people to earn the revered "Master of Wine" status AND a first-class winemaker to boot. That is an impossibly rare combo!
- Angel funding gave Richard the jump his one-man business needed, allowing him to tap into South Africa's huge potential to make spectacular wines without hiking up the price. Now he runs Richard Kershaw wines!
- Unlike the show-off wineries in South Africa, Richard dreams of owning a shed to make wine in. Angel support didn't give him the funds for fancy cellar doors, marble floors, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Just the stuff that matters most - raw winemaking talent, great grapes, and a shed!
Years Angel-funded: 2015-16
Map of the Vineyard
Richard Kershaw's Story
"How I ended up where I am today… well, I took a business HND, decided to start up a new restaurant, felt I needed to understand the catering side so embarked on a chef’s City and Guilds, got interested in wine from a sommelier point of view, left catering, went into the wine trade as a retailer, managed a shop, started on the Masters of Wine course, decided that I needed to know more about the making, did a Diploma in winemaking and then eventually travelled the world doing harvests and making wine…
Not a straightforward answer but in life things rarely are with one thing leading to another… and I like to satisfy my curiosity.
Despite my parents and grandparents enjoying wine and occasionally having a few great bottles as kids (I remember Puligny Montrachet being a name mentioned) I didn’t myself really drink wine until I was 18 years old and beer only at 22! Essentially, I believe one of the reasons for this late start was the sense of smell. I tended to find whisky smelt of vomit and beer of stale bread. Wine just began to take on more interesting flavors and coupled with this was a mental processing semi-dysfunction! Until sixteen years of age I was incorrectly diagnosed with dyslexia. During my sixteenth year the voices of reason (parents and teachers) felt that I needed further tests as something wasn’t quite right, for one my writing was dreadful (like a spider had scurried across the page). Through a week of intensive lab tests (long needles in spines, MRI scans, etc) it was discovered that my brain was simply working at a faster speed than my writing and the specialist suggested that this child must find a conduit for all this energetical brain power by finding a subject challenging enough to tackle it. Within 2 years that subject had been found (Sadly we couldn’t drink it at school so hence we didn’t learn about it) and that was WINE. Wine and winemaking as a subject was just so wide and such a cross-disciplined platform that I was able to dispense all my brain activity and pour it into the cornucopia of wine. This allowed my to look at sensory attributes, chemical attributes, winemaking practices, maturation and aging paradoxes, commercial knowledge, plant growing/viticulture, farming practices, mechanical engineering, biochemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, history of wine…it goes one. Indeed it was the one subject that seemed to tie up all my school subjects in one sweep. And of course helped me to relax with its sedentary or calming powers. ;)
I love the adrenaline rush from a picking of Sauvignon Blanc that are overtly fragrant with thiol esters and methoxypyrazines aromas that fill every pore of the cellar; an experiment on a recently pressed tank which turns out to be better than imagined; the stimulation of always being tested whether on winemaking, woodwork, laboratory analysis, chemistry, electronics, mechanics, viticulture, biology, geography, public speaking or explaining to your wife why you haven’t come home from the winery!
Or is it that I just love standing out on a perilously steep crag with the curves of the mountains rising on the other side, breathless with the view, thinking if you could plant anything at this height, or whether one should simply sit and meditate a while whilst you contemplate the beauty of it all and the fact why vineyards seem to always be planted in the most picturesque spots.
Or maybe I just love the fact one uses sight, smell, taste, touch and occasionally during malolactic fermentation, sound! The fact that one-day is never the same, not the hours nor the work nor the problems. The fact that I love doing what I am doing and every day is a gift to be able to immerse myself in a true passion.
But most of all I love the fact that I have never have had to work – it is simply a hobby that someone fortunately pays me for!
My philosophy: Despite the technological advances of man, nature itself has remained elusive. Each year it presents us with a fresh set of variables to which the winemaker must work with. He must coerce and cajole the nuances of each vintage from the grapes and let them express themselves to their fullest potential in the glass. This is achieved by using his knowledge and all the tools at his disposal to fine-tune the wine.
I believe that by applying these principles the wine displayed in the glass will be a true reflection of what is in the vine and soil.
In a nutshell: Once a site is decided upon, it is analyzed for the best possible planting situation in terms of varietal, clonal selection, orientation of the vines and rows and any needed improvements in drainage or access. Some vineyards when purchased or rented are ready with established plants, others have required extensive renovation and modification. The family strives to find and secure the best possible sites for all of its bottlings
The wines are special because they are:
- Varietal defined (Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Rose, Chardonnay or Syrah)
- Sourced from cooler climates (Durbanville, Darling, Southern Stellenbosch) and for the Mid Range and Premium Wine from theElgin - the coolest climate in South Africa: Region 2: 1500 degree days, 200 degree days cooler than the next coolest.
- Terroir specific for the Mid Range and Premium wines.
- Clonally defined (specific clones of both grapes) for the Premium wines.
- Hand-crafted and with minimal intervention with work done by myself or my wife or both!
- Naturally made and using a gravity fed cellar for the Premium wines.
- All the grapes come from small parcels of land grown by mates and friends of mine whom I personally wanted to work with.
All the wines are made by South Africa’s only winemaking Master of Wine, myself!
I am really hoping the Angels can help me! Certainly the ability to plant some vineyards on a piece of land would be very helpful. I am currently in negotiation with a company to build a small shed/cellar. Here in South Africa we have a passion to build enormously expensive cellars and it has been difficult to find an architect who can actually build something more basic (having just returned from Australia many of the newer winemakers uses sheds) without costing the earth!"
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