Greg Landman meets the country’s top winemakers. This month is the turn of Thys Louw…
Growing up on a historic wine farm, living in a beautiful manor house, the heir to an impressive lineage, loved and nurtured by adoring parents, could go to some people’s head, but Thys Louw carries it as if to the manor born. While hardly retiring, he is soft spoken. “I was raised in our cellar with wine so it was always in my blood,” he says.
He spent his childhood helping out and following around his father Tienie, who had been making award-winning wines for three decades. The pair are close, the mantle not having to fall far. Thys studied at the Cape Technikon, spent some time in the Rhine at a harvest, then at Jordan, and completed his training with Hermann Kirschbaum at Buitenverwachting to whom he pays tribute along with his father. He lives on the farm with his wife Ladine and their two youngsters, Tienie (guess what he’ll be doing in 20 years’ time?) and Amelie. He enjoys hunting, fishing and cycling at Langebaan, Namibia and Van Zylsrus.
The Afrikaans word dal derives from the Old English word for a valley – a dale. In the Durbanville Wine Valley there are three farms that have it as part of their name but only one, Diemersdal, has been in the same family since 1885.
Six generations of Louws have practised their craft at Diemersdal, with talented young winemaker Thys Louw the current custodian of this impressive heritage. Old records show that wine has been made here since 1705 – more than three centuries of delivering fine wines to a thirsty market. The area is one of the oldest in the Cape and a delight to visit.
The wines that Thys makes are full of intense fruit flavours with no shy and retiring nuances. The farm covers 340 hectares of which 180 are under vines. Dryland conditions are used with no irrigation, encouraging the vines to produce exceptionally concentrated flavours. The cool mists and breezes from the nearby Atlantic play a significant role when the vines are ripening in the harsh Cape summer sun. The estate makes no fewer than five versions of the signature varietal of the valley, Sauvignon Blanc, each with its own character, even one that’s wooded – full and rich and delicious. With Thys at the helm, the family tradition is certainly in competent hands.
Find our more about Diemersdal here: diemersdal.co.za
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.