Meet the Vintner... Luke O'Cuinneagain

Meet the Vintner… Luke O’Cuinneagain

Luke O’cuinneagain grew up amongst the vineyards of Constantia Valley and his passion for wine was born when working for Buitenverwachting and Constantia Uitsig while studying to get into veterinary school. This caused a U-turn in his thinking, and he went off to Stellenbosch University to study Oenology. 

He always believed it was important to look for new and innovative techniques or ideas. So, after completing his studies he headed off to see the world. Luke ended up working for Chateau Fieuzal, Cave Dietrich, Chateau Angelus, Screaming Eagle and then worked at Rustenberg, just down the valley from Glenelly, for five years. Luke joined the Glenelly team at the end of 2007. 

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

There three people that I hold in very high esteem outside of Glenelly, they are Adi Badenhorst, Hubert de Bourde and Paul Drapper. 

Which is your favourite variety to work with and why?

I have always loved the two Cabernets, Sauvignon and franc. The different expression you get from the varietal to the precision you need to work with it, I find it fascinating.

Any advice for budding winemakers?

You need both passion and perseverance

What factors makes a great vintage?

That is complicated, but in a nut shell you need the perfect weather conditions, fantastic site, perfect work in the vineyard, picking at the optimum time and precise decision making in the cellar.

What is your all-time food and wine pairing?

Pork belly roasted on green coffee beans with candy citrus, drinking it with a great Chardonnay.

What has surprised you most of being a Stellenbosch winemaker?

The consistency of the region.

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

The smoke of a two stoke boat engine after water skiing on Knysna lagoon

Tell us about your first Stellenbosch harvest

My first harvest was when I was at university and took place at Rustenberg, what I remember from it was the excitement and energy of the whole Estate. 

What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?

There are many goals but the main one is to make sure that we have and build a very solid successful business that will be here for many years to come and can be handed down the generations.