Iona’s winemaker Werner Muller takes no credit for how delicious his wine is but rather credits the vineyards and the fruit.
Muller – who comes from Bellville – supported his studies by working in a wine shop. Through exposure to great wines his curiosity and passion began to grow. His next step was to assist a winemaker, and he was soon recognised as a natural. Now with eleven years of wine making under his belt, and an impressive portfolio of vintages credited, he is not only a natural but a professional.
Some of Iona’s wines will be showcased when one of South Africa’s oldest wine shows – The Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival – proudly celebrates its 30th anniversary when it takes place on May 5 and 6 at Summer Place in Johannesburg.
Muller answered some questions ahead of the festival.
How did you get into winemaking?
I always loved the idea of farming but being a creative person, I found the perfect match with farming and making wine.
What is your philosophy on winemaking?
It’s all about the vineyards. Put the effort into the vineyards then respect the fruit in the cellar.
Tell us about one or two of your wines that will be shown at the Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival and what food they pair well with?
Our Iona Elgin Highlands Pinot Noir is from two unique blocks namely the Kloof and the Kroon vineyard. This wine is fragrant, perfumed with lovely guitar string intensity. Pair this wine with rare meats or poultry. We are also showing a Solace Syrah, a biodynamic wine from a different property. This is red cherries, berries and white spice and is a totally different take on Syrah. This wine pairs beautifully with lamb or – my personal favourite – with lamb chops on the braai.
Tell us about some of your wines’ latest awards or achievements?
Our Sauvignon Blanc scored top honours in a recent Wine Mag 10-year-old tasting. We are thrilled with this as this reinforces the unique qualities of this cool site and its ability to make age-worthy wines.
Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or wine region?
I am a Burgundy fan. I love the classic nature and the generational approach to learning and developing the wines.
What do you enjoy about your job?
Taking homework home.
What is your favourite wine to drink?
I personally love the Iona Elgin Highlands Chardonnay. A wine I believe can stand amongst the top in the world.
What is your favourite food and wine pairing?
One that involves a lot of both!
What is something other people might not know about you?
When I am not making wine, I am actually a runway model for famous men’s underwear. Jokes aside, I am actually a shy introvert that loves cycling famous mountains of the Tour de France.
Anything else you would like to add?
Once you develop a taste for cool climate sophistication you will be hooked.
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