Introducing Winemaker Gerhard Smith
Creation co-owners Jean-Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin recently announced the appointment of the accomplished winemaker Gerhard Smith to the team. “We’re excited to welcome Gerhard on board and look forward to working with him. We believe his skills and experience will be a natural asset to our team,” says an enthusiastic Carolyn.
Gerhard grew up in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town and having matriculated at DF Malan High School, studied Oenology and Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch. Upon graduating he gained extensive international experience in France, the USA and Australia before settling in New Zealand where he managed the Gladstone Vineyard in Wairarapa for eight years before returning to South Africa.
Why did Gerhard decide to become a winemaker? “I am from a family of doctors, but realised soon enough that it would be better for the world if I didn’t follow that particular family tradition! Luckily, there were wine farmers on my paternal grandmother’s side, so I followed what seemed to be a natural course: combining a passion for science with my creative and artistic side. So far it has worked for me!”
Asked about his winemaking philosophy Gerhard’s reply is short and to the point: “Farm right, then don’t stuff it up in the winery. My aim is to make elegant, terroir-driven wines, and I’m delighted to be working with the wonderful sites we have at our disposal on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge.”
In terms of inspiration Gerhard doesn’t hesitate to name Wynand Hamman. “He was the cellarmaster at Lanzerac when I started as a wet-behind-the-ears assistant. He introduced me to elegant wines with great finesse, a style I’ve always strived to emulate. The eight years spent in New Zealand and especially the exposure to the excellent New World Pinots from Martinborough and Central Otago were also instrumental in shaping my winemaking style.”
Gerhard loves the Hemel-en-Aarde wine region where he sees vast potential. “Great soils, great sites and great people. The Hemel-en-Aarde is a small microcosm of winemakers all chasing that ‘holy grail’ of winemaking, but prepared to be open, sharing and supportive of each other.”
At Creation nothing is ever static and innovation is the order of the day. What are Gerhard’s expectations? “I look forward to tapping into the excellent work done by JC by working with vineyards with ever-increasing vine age. My time in New Zealand taught me the value of well-maintained older vineyards; you get such structure without weight, and complexity without losing finesse. The virus-free status of the Creation vineyards is of course paramount to making truly good wines. I’m also excited about exploring some new cultivars (for the Hemel-en-Aarde) such as Roussanne and Grenache Blanc, continuing to push the boundaries of our area.”
With the 2018 harvest around the corner, Gerhard plans to spend a lot of time in the Creation vineyards: “The exact time of ripeness and when to pick is the most important call you can make during this hectic time. And then of course a cold beer at beer o’ clock!”