As part of its annual Wine Star Awards, US publication Wine Enthusiast named Andrea Mullineux its 2016 Winemaker of the Year. Eugene Yiga spoke to her about her remarkable journey so far.
How did you get into wine?
I grew up near San Francisco in California. The high school I went to primed me for a lifelong love of Science and Art, which were my family’s backgrounds, so I knew that I wanted to go to The University of California, Davis – a top university for studding wine, to further my education.
What was your first job?
After university I worked in the Napa Valley for a few years before heading to South Africa for an internship at Waterford in Stellenbosch. I fell in love with the country, wines, and opportunities. I eventually met Chris, who would become my husband. In 2007, we decided to start our own winery, Mullineux Family Wines. In 2013, one of our partners sold some of his shares to our new partner and we changed the name of the company to Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines.
What were your biggest challenges and tasks when you joined?
Starting a winery from scratch is a huge task and there was a quick learning curve. We knew what types of wine we liked and then we needed to find vineyards that would give us what we were looking for. Marketing wine was something we knew little about when we began but I think that our honesty and authenticity is the most important aspect of spreading our message about the wines.
What makes your wines unique?
The Mullineux wines are honest wines made with lots of attention to detail yet in a hands-off way. All of the yeast is indigenous and that expresses the wine’s site to its fullest. Every wine I make for Mullineux tells its own story about the Swartland. The new brand will be a bit more of a winemaker wine, and more about reinterpretation.
What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker?
I think that the Winemaker of the Year award is a fantastic achievement but for me getting the balancing act between making great wine and taking care of my fantastic family is the most important.
What was it like winning Wine Magazine’s Winemaker of the Year?
It is definitely the highlight of my winemaking career. It is not just good for me or the company but for ALL of the South African wine business, as it puts all of the great wines of this country in the spotlight.