For the past 14 years, Johan has been an integral member of the Spier winemaking team as an acclaimed red winemaker. He succeeds his mentor and industry icon, Frans Smit, who has now taken on the role of Spier’s Managing Director after 25 years of exemplary winemaking and viticultural leadership.
The historic Stellenbosch-based farm is renowned for developing awarded, quality wines in local and international markets. From the vineyards where Spier sources grapes to the cellar producing terroir-driven wines, there’s a well-recognised commitment to the sustainability of people and place. Johan will drive this ethos forward and uphold the highest quality standards for Spier’s substantial portfolio of world-class wine ranges.
Johan says, “It’s an honour to serve my team in my new role as Cellar Master, especially as I am keenly aware that I am following in the seasoned and accomplished footsteps of one of South Africa’s leading winemakers. It’s a testimony to his incredible mentorship and leadership that as a team, we actively develop talent from within, giving our long-standing members the opportunities to grow on-the-job and follow individual pathways to develop their potential.”
Raised on a grape farm in Rawsonville, Johan went on to study a Diploma in Oenology from Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch. Having joined Spier in 2007, he has played his role on a wine team that has achieved a long list of industry achievements and accolades. In 2011, Johan received the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award. Over the years, he has also completed a series of targeted leadership development courses that have steadily fostered his skills to inspire and guide his team of dedicated winemakers.
Spier’s multi-faceted winemaking team includes:
- Viticulturist Bennie Liebenberg, responsible for overseeing the vineyard sites where Spier responsibly sources from, and the continued development of a sustainable supply chain.
- Organic Winemaker Tania Kleintjes is accountable for all Spier’s organic wines
- Specialising in Cap Classique and red wines, Senior Winemaker Heidi Dietstein will oversee the management and guidance of the cellar team.
- Senior Winemaker Anton Swarts, responsible for wine procurement and production of bespoke and custom wine ranges including low and no alcohol wines.
- White Winemaker Anthony Kock, accountable for all production-related matters in the cellar.
- Assistant Winemaker Heinrich Opperman plays a key role in the management of the harvest teams.
- Winemaker, Lizanne Jordaan oversees the production of select red wine export brands.
In tune with a philosophy to do good business throughout its operations, the winemaking team continually focuses on a long-term vision. For Johan, this means upholding well-established projects focused on ethical sourcing and ensuring supply chain integrity.
“The benefit of nurturing talent in the team over time is seamless business continuity, whether that’s in product quality or the policies and practices that result in achieving our key business objectives,” says Johan. “We know and appreciate where we’ve come from, and it is our responsibility to build forth and nurture a sustainable future for our partners in the industry.”