Meet the Vintner... Christo le Riche

Meet the Vintner… Christo le Riche

Christo grew up in the shadows of the Simonsberg on a working wine farm, so it is no surprise that he went off to Stellenbosch University and not only achieved a BSc Agric Viticulture and Oenology but also a BSc Agric Hons Cum Laude Viticulture.


Today Christo has taken over the reins at Le Riche Wines from his father, Etienne le Riche, and is an accomplished winemaker in his own right. Christo’s passion for Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon drives his search to better understand the region.

He is also a founding member of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective and currently chairman.


In his free time, he enjoys surfing, spearfishing, and trail running – basically anything outdoors and in nature.


I will keep perusing the Le Riche vision of producing top Stellenbosch Cabernets and striving toward finding the best expression of our vineyards.

Who in the wine world do you admire and how have they influenced you?

I am always inspired by those who have taken their businesses to a new level of success, whether in quality or in turnover.  Johann Krige, Hubert du Bouard, Robert Mondavi, Eben Sadie, Chris Alheit, Mike Ratcliffe and many more are great examples of successful vintners.  But closer to home it would be the legends in our industry.  My father, Carl Shultz, Peter Finlayson and a few others have played a big role in shaping my winemaking views, along with my friends and peers.


Which is your favourite variety to work with and why?

Cabernet Sauvignon is and will remain my focus and first love.  It is a great that can showcase itself in a multitude of soils and climates, but it demands a scientific approach and attention to detail which I really enjoy.


Any advice for budding winemakers?

Taste and travel as much as you can.  The world of wine is big and everyone can find their niche. But, developing your own style and clarity of thought takes time and experience, so enjoy the ride and allow nature to show in what you make.


What is your all-time food and wine pairing?

Old Cabernets with home -made springbuck pie. 


What has surprised you most of being a Stellenbosch winemaker?

The diversity of our microclimates.  I can drive 10 mins and experience a multitude of different weather conditions.  Our mountains and oceans play such a crucial role in our area, and they allow for such a beautiful diversity of terroir in our region.


What’s the strangest word you’ve used to describe the smell or taste of wine?

It would have to be my father’s classic, ethereal.  No one really knows what it means but it sounds amazing.


Tell us about your first Stellenbosch harvest.

Wow, I have been experiencing them since I was a little boy, but my first Stellenbosch winemaking job was at Thelema.  Working with Rudi and Giles was great fun, and I am still good friends with the German harvest intern who worked with us.  But I will never forget standing on the crush pad in winter and looking up at the snow-covered Simonsberg hovering above me.  That beauty is something I have not experienced anywhere else in the world.     


What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?

The one and most important goal for me is to discover at least 10 great Stellenbosch Cabernet sites to work with and understand.  It is not often that you can get your hands on a great vineyard, but once you have them winemaking becomes an amazing experience.


And finally…

“I will keep perusing the Le Riche vision of producing top Stellenbosch Cabernets and striving toward finding the best expression of our vineyards.”