Gielie was born in Caledon in 1981 and matriculated at Overberg High. He followed this with a diploma or two from Elsenburg (cellar technology and wine production), as well as a National Certificate from the Cape Wine Academy.
He has a light and easy manner, which belies his steely determination to get things done, but his sense of humour has seen him through some tough times. Experience while studying and after was acquired at Glen Carlou, where he pays tribute to David Finlayson, also to Edmund Terblanche at La Motte, and Julianne Laks of Cakebread Cellars in the Napa Valley (USA).
Two harvests were also spent at Saint-Émilion and in the Dordogne in France, and time in the Napa Valley, both adding immeasurably to his knowledge. Of being a winemaker he says, “We must be careful of just being followers and not innovators – and losing our identity in the process.”
He and his partner Marguerite Nel live on a farm in Agter Paarl with two lucky dogs, Mila a 12-year-old black Labrador and Gemorsie a 6-year-old cross-breed. The couple enjoys cooking, especially Thai food. He says Marguerite “can do anything – an amazing woman,” so he obviously knows that good looks alone will not cut it when it comes to your other half.
It’s certain that Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), also called the Iron Duke, could never have imagined that he’d have a small farming town in South Africa named after him. The gentle hills of Wellington are covered in fruit orchards with fields of olives taking root in ancient soil, while the rich green of vineyards as far as the eye can see have an almost mystical quality. It seems fitting that the farm Doolhof, which lies in the picturesque Bovlei area of Wellington, bears the Afrikaans name for a labyrinth, one of the best-known symbols of Greek mythology. The name was given by the original settlers who were struck by the labyrinthine topography of the area.
The soils are particularly good for magnificent red wines, the roots of some vines able to penetrate the soil up to 4m in places.
Winemaker Gielie Beukes makes wines that are intense, very much fruit driven, with as little manipulation as possible. He’s very aware of the history of Doolhof, which dates back to the early 1700s, and says, “I’m privileged to be able to play my part in the continuation of this great tradition.” With special areas identified for single-vineyard varietals, the range is able to cater for various tastes and price points, a flexible approach that bodes well for the future of these excellent wines.
One of the Legends of the Labyrinth series, this delicious Pinotage is packed with intense, dark-red berry flavours, packing a great punch on the nose, which follows through onto the palate. Magnificent with red meats and game fish.
Notes of violets and blackcurrants, as well as plenty of grapes on the nose, fulfil their promise in an elegant award-winning wine with fine, velvety tannins. Decanting recommended to open up the nose.
Words: Greg Landman