Nederburg introduces new assistant white-wine maker
Issued by August Collective - Jul 16th, 11:04
Nederburg introduces new assistant white-wine maker, Jamie Fredericks.
Ask Cape Flats-born Jamie Fredericks about her biggest challenge to date and the recently appointed 25-year-old assistant white-wine maker at Nederburg is unequivocal in her response: “travelling internationally, on my own and having to rely on people I've never met!”
This from a young woman raised by a single mum who works as a registered nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital, as well as her late grandmother, who passed away while Jamie was still in high school.
The overseas trip she refers to was an opportunity to work in California after her studies. Her journey into wine, however, started some time before that.
Born in 1992, Jamie was raised in Retreat and matriculated at Norman Henshilwood High School in Constantia. “I always had a passion for science, but I was unsure of the route to take in this dynamic industry. Initially, working in the laboratory seemed a proper fit and I enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch to study Human Life Sciences.”
She soon realised it wasn't for her. “The degree wasn’t broad enough for me,” she says. “So, I switched to Molecular Biology and Biotechnology."
“In my second year, I completed a module on wine biotechnology and I was instantly captured. Biotechnology studies the use of micro-organisms in industrial or commercial applications. In winemaking, a central micro-organism is yeast, which converts sugar in grape juice to alcohol for consumption and enjoyment.”
Being in the heart of wine country, Jamie almost inevitably developed a social appreciation and love for wine too. “Wine is a big part of the Stellenbosch culture and learning and tasting different wines and all its different expressions led me to want to know more,” she says.
Her BSc graduation was promptly followed by appointment in 2015 as a laboratory analyst intern at Distell’s Die Bergkelder.
She recalls the seminal influence of her first harvest at the Stellenbosch winery. “I worked under the supervision of winemakers Kristin Basson and Pieter Badenhorst. Their passion and drive made me realise how important the role of a winemaker is. All the hard work and effort that goes into it makes you enjoy the end-product so much more.”
She quickly realised how handy her biotech specialisation was. Environmental impact has become a major focus of industry worldwide and biotechnology is the field at the cutting edge, she says. “My majors were genetics, biochemistry and microbiology so this gives me an in-depth understanding of the metabolism of micro-organisms and plant material, and how we can manipulate them to achieve the desired outcome in wine, in an environmentally conscious way.”
A year later, she moved closer to production with appointment as a harvest cellar intern. In May this year, she took up her current position at the world-renowned Nederburg in Paarl.
It has been a steep learning curve, although maintaining an objective view has helped. “I always look at a situation from both ends to find a solution,” she explains, adding that she’s most proud of the ability she’s learnt to “not take things too seriously”.
Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry has also been significant. “I see more women now working in primary and secondary production. However, when looking at past experiences, I have had to work twice as hard just to prove myself as a capable winemaker.”
She didn’t have to look far for a good example to follow through. “My mother is my biggest inspiration,” says Jamie. “She has worked extremely hard to give me the best in life.”
It’s the reason for a very strong conviction: “For me, it’s family over everything,” she says.
Jamie names her career highlight to date without hesitation; it’s that very same August 2016 trip she regards as the biggest challenge. “I received an opportunity through the organisation Communicating for Agriculture Education Programme (CAEP) to work in Napa, California.”
On the way, she fell in love with San Francisco. “It reminds me so much of Cape Town – all business by day and entertainment by night.”
Jamie spent three months in the US as a harvest enologist at Hunnicutt Wines. “The winery is a custom crush facility, and I was able to learn from five different winemakers. During this time, I also had the opportunity to use an optical sorter, which employs a light source to automatically distinguish the choice berries. Only good grapes can make good wine!”
The experience was a perfect fit for her personality too. “I love a challenge,” she says. “That's what first intrigued me about winemaking. Every day is different, and wine is ever-changing. Looking for new ways or innovations is what I strive for.”
It makes her right at home at Nederburg where traditional wisdom is complemented by new insight and the latest science and technology.
Of course, good wine goes hand in hand with good food and Jamie has a real love for both. “My mom makes the best pasta with herbs, spices, mince and a white creamy sauce. Whenever I did well at school, she would make this for me. It might sound plain, but for me, it was a luxury. I still crave it.”
The more recent addition of wine to her passions - along with Irish whisky - has expanded her epicurean tastes. Jamie expresses a passion for Chenin Blanc, “for its versatility”. “The wine is used for the making of sparkling, dry, semi-sweet or sweet wine styles, as well as brandy; and, it can handle oak integration. It’s is also less prone to oxidation,” she says.
The perfect match
In pairing food and wine, however, she pursues that “perfect match” that brings body and aroma of wine into line with that of a well-made dish.
For her, the perfect matches with each of the five Nederburg Heritage Heroes wines, a gourmet range commemorating Nederburg personalities of the past, are simple: “I would pair The Anchorman Chenin Blanc, with a creamy pasta and side of salad. The wine has a rounder palate due to oak integration, but still shows fresh flavours such as apricots and nectarines."
“The Motorcycle Marvel Rhône-style red blend offers an explosion of warm spices such as cloves and cinnamon, yet still manages to hold ripe berry flavours. I would pair this well with spicy Cape Malay dishes. "
“The Brew Master Bordeaux-style blend is a very elegant yet full-bodied wine with dark chocolate, cigar box and vanilla flavours. It’s a lovely match with red meats like roasted lamb, or even a lekker braai!"
“The Beautiful Lady Gewürztraminer is a supremely aromatic wine due to extended skin contact before pressing. It has bursts of Turkish delight and sweet litchi flavours. This wine goes well with charcuterie or even a dessert."
“The Young Airhawk Sauvignon Blanc displays lovely green figs and lemongrass flavours with a creamy finish as a result of partial wood maturation. I love having it with fresh seafood.”
The seafood connection is particularly close to her heart and she admits being a bit of an ocean nut. “I love the smell of an ocean breeze and can’t imagine living far from it.”
Jamie would love to have her own wine label one day. “It will be in remembrance of my late grandmother who played a huge role in my life.”
From gran and mum came much of Jamie’s outlook on life. “It’s important to love who you are and be yourself. Work hard, very hard. Even if you aren’t the smartest or the most talented, hard work surpasses it all. Don’t let past circumstances get in the way of realising your potential,” she says.
“I want my legacy to show that no matter where you come from, or what situation you are in, there is always a way out. I am from the Cape flats and that will forever be part of who I am, but should not determine what I accomplish in life.”
When she’s not working, Jamie enjoys exploring the Western Cape, especially the Garden Route; and, pastimes like swimming, wine with friends and walking her puppy. Her secret pleasure for energy replenishment is a facial beauty treatment. “It makes me feel I can conquer anything!”
Jamie is engaged to her boyfriend of nearly five years and lives in Milnerton with her mother, stepfather and younger sister.
Click here for more information on Nederburg
The Nederburg winery near Paarl achieved a combined total of 41 medals at the recent 2018 Veritas Awards and 2018 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards. The accolades were awarded at two glitzy ceremonies held in Cape Town over the past two weekends.
South Africa’s national team of top wine tasters, comprising wine lovers from across the country who qualified via the South African Wine Tasting Championships (SAWTC) earlier this year, will be departing African shores at this end of this week to compete in the World Blind Tasting Championship (WBTC) in Bezier, Languedoc, in France, on 13 October.
Nederburg achieved two gold medals at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in the UK, for its 2015 Private Bin R163 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2017 The Winemasters Noble Late Harvest.
The world spins quicker with social media, technology and innovation escalating consumer needs, wants and expectations. The only constant that marketers have to work with is that their consumer is an individual and not just a mere number on a chart.
Try these recipes
Warm up this winter while the sun's away with Place in the Sun Merlot. Its bright fresh berry tastes with a hint of oak respond deliciously to some traditional Glühwein spicing. Heart-warming to drink, the wine offers the added bonus of doing good for others.
While rugby gees at the stadium or pub is always exciting, sometimes the winter cold makes us want to curl up and stay indoors! Drostdy Hof invites you to make the most of the moment in your own home when South Africa takes on Ireland this June 11.
Fairtrade-accredited Place in the Sun wines are kind to the earth and to the people who harvest the grapes. To earn the certification, grapes have to be cultivated according to eco-friendly principles. Place in the Sun also pays a premium for the fruit. The money is used to support health, nutritional, educational and recreational projects decided on by the farm workers involved.
Red meat and red wine is a classic pairing for a reason! The tannins in reds bond with and soften the protein of the meat, bringing out its savoury flavours and juiciness.