Greg Landman meets the country’s top winemakers. This month is the turn of Luke O’Cuinneagain of Glenelly
Luke O’Cuinneagain was born in Cape Town in 1980 to an Irish father and English mother, who immigrated after coming here on their honeymoon. Many of his family members are in medicine so he considers himself the ‘black sheep’ of the clan.
His middle brother introduced him to the wonders of wine and he worked at Constantia Uitsig while at university, which really fed his interest. André Badenhorst was there at the time and showed Luke the intricacies of wine. He initially went to Stellenbosch to become a vet but soon succumbed to the siren of the vines, eventually working at Rustenberg with another Badenhorst, Adi, to whom he says he owes “a great deal”.
He also pays tribute to Hubert de Boüard at Château Angélus, Saint-Emilion, who taught him that wine has an economic side. Then came spells at Screaming Eagle in the Napa Valley and Château Fieuzal in Bordeaux. He and his wife Helen, a beauty editor, live at Glenelly with two golden retrievers, amusingly called Winston Churchill and Clementine. He is a train fanatic and is in the process of building a replica of the Knysna railway.