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From Bloem to Babylonstoren

Jeanne Pienaar must have one of the most coveted jobs around. Not only does she spend her days making wine, she gets to do it on one of the Cape’s most beautiful farms, Babylonstoren. Here we raise a glass to our homegrown talent…

I grew up in a small town, Viljoenskroon, in the Free State, then moved to Bloemfontein and attended Eunice Girls High School.

After school, I went to Stellenbosch University to study BSc Viticulture and Oenology, which roughly translated means studying wine. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study but I knew I like a challenge. I’m very privileged that I found something I love and that I’m stimulated every day with new knowledge and new tasks to master.

I’ve always known that wine brings friends and family together with a good meal and to appreciate the wonderful memories that it brings. I only realised while I was studying and especially when I started harvesting what it really entails. It’s a combination of science, being creative, being in touch with nature, and working with people.

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I consider myself a lucky girl to have ended up working on one of the Cape’s most beautiful wine farms, Babylonstoren.

Despite much being said about women winemakers working in a man’s world, South Africa has been very welcoming to female winemakers. For some, it’s still surprising that female winemakers could and are doing the work that only men used to take an interest in. These days, female winemakers are setting the bar high. They’re elevating women in wine globally.

I don’t necessarily think women make wine differently, or make different wine from men. I think it depends more on the person, the type of wine, and the winemaker you are. The female winemakers I have worked with often focused on detail. This has proven time and again to make a difference in the quality of the wine.

I have had the privilege to work with inspirational winemakers – male and female. Each and every encounter has taught me skills and motivated me to be where I am today.

My winemaking style is based on keeping it simple, as true to the earth as possible, and to make the best wine I can. It takes years and many late nights to perfect it.

My first harvest in 2018 proved to me that I really love what I’m doing.

I prefer working with red grapes, but it’s interesting to experiment with white varieties.

Harvest time is the most exciting time of the year at Babylonstoren, and it’s always a bittersweet moment when the harvest is over.

The most rewarding thing about my job is when the wine is even more fascinating than I expected it to be.

I love travelling so I would love to travel more and learn a lot more, and share with others the beauty of enjoying the simple things in life.

The most interesting thing happening in the world of wine now is climate change and the effect it has on wine. Nothing is the same year in and year out.

When I’m not drinking wine, I am reminded of the famous saying, “It takes a lot of beer to make wine”.

Wine lovers in Bloemfontein can buy our wines on our online shop, where you can buy them at cellar door prices. Our wine is also available at Seisoen and Warm Karoo.

I’d recommend that you buy a bottle of Babylonstoren Sprankel now since it’s a time for celebration! The packaging is beautiful, reminding one of Babylonstoren’s beautiful gardens. It’s one of my personal favourites because it’s fresh and well-balanced.

If you’re visiting Babylonstoren over the festive season, pop into our Christmas Pop-Up shop in the Scented Room until mid-December. Or take a walk through the Puff Adder where we house age-old bonsai-trees – some over 120 years old. Then, stop for a meal at one of our two farm-to-fork restaurants, stroll through our organic food gardens, or sip wine in our Tasting Room. I hope to see you there!

Find Babylonstoren on Instagram and Facebook or visit www.babylonstoren.com


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