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1 March 2019  -  WOSA Blog, Malu Lambert

“We’re bringing in the old vine chenin now,” says managing partner and cellarmaster, Kevin Arnold of Waterford Estate. It’s harvest time in Stellenbosch.

The low purr of tractors rumble in the distance; and the scent of fermenting grape juice hangs over the Helderberg region like a ubiquitous summer perfume. It was in fact this aroma that first drew Kevin to his vinous vocation back in his student days.

“I love the smell of yeast,” he says reclining back in an armchair in Waterford’s tasting room.  “The smell of fermenting grapes is what attracted me to study wine in the first place.”

At 63-years-old silver-haired Kevin has this relaxed charm that immediately draws you in. Born in the Karoo on a horse farm, wine wasn’t initially on the cards for him. Schooled at St Andrews in Bloemfontein, his path led him to Stellenbosch to study agriculture. The plan was teaching initially, “but I fell in love with Stellenbosch and the idea of making wine here.”

To get into the winemaking programme wasn’t so simple however. “In those days they didn’t let people who weren’t from the Western Cape study wine; so we made a deal, I needed to get the top marks in my agricultural studies to be allowed in.”

He did just that and went on to achieve a Diploma in Cellar Technology at Elsenburg. To augment this he worked as a cellar hand at Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (now Distell) between 1978 and 1979.

Serendipity struck in his practical year when he was taken under the wing of the sparrow, Spatz Sperling of Delheim.

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