Meet the challenge winemakers: Carl van der Merwe from Demorgenzon Estate

“My ultimate philosophy is to intervene as little as possible and allow the inherent quality of the origin to be expressed whilst always being aware of global quality levels and styles and what wines I will be competing against in various price levels,” states Carl van der Merwe, when asked about his approach to making wine.

Van der Merwe has a decade of wine-making experience in Stellenbosch, South Africa, first at Quoin Rock Estate and now at Demorgenzon Estate, where he is also general manager, which means involvement in budgets, product design, marketing, and vineyard management, among other areas.

With a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Oenology and Business Management from University of Stellenbosch in hand, van der Merwe had stints at Winecorp and international harvest experience at Chateau Pichon Longueville and Chateau Chasse Spleen in Bordeaux and at Bookwalter Winery in Washington State. He has toured wine regions that range from Rust in Austria to the Loire Valley in France to Ribera del Duero in Spain to British Columbia and Ontario in Canada.

When asked what grape he would work with, if he could only pick one, van der Merwe said that he adores Pinot Noir and Riesling but he would choose Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Across a selection of different countries, Cabernet Sauvignon is capable of producing wines of great depth and complexity with a freshness and ability to mature,” he says. “I love the structure of Cabernet and am fascinated by its reaction to soil moisture levels and the resultant structure in the wine.”

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