25-year-old Jamie Fredericks, Nederburg’s newly appointed assistant white-wine maker, loves a challenge. “That’s what first intrigued me about winemaking. Every day is different, and wine is ever-changing. Looking for new ways or innovations is what I strive for.”

Cape Flats-born Jamie already has international experience under her belt, spending three months in the US as a harvest enologist at Hunnicutt Wines. “I received an opportunity through the organisation Communicating for Agriculture Education Programme (CAEP) to work in Napa, California… The winery is a custom crush facility, and I was able to learn from five different winemakers. During this time, I also had the opportunity to use an optical sorter, which employs a light source to automatically distinguish the choice berries. Only good grapes can make good wine!”

The wine bug first bit Jamie Fredericks while she was studying in Stellenbosch. “I always had a passion for science, but I was unsure of the route to take in this dynamic industry. Initially, working in the laboratory seemed a proper fit and I enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch to study Human Life Sciences.” After realising that the degree wasn’t broad enough for her, she switched to Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. “In my second year, I completed a module on wine biotechnology and I was instantly captured. Biotechnology studies the use of micro-organisms in industrial or commercial applications. In winemaking, a central micro-organism is yeast, which converts sugar in grape juice to alcohol for consumption and enjoyment.”

After graduating with a BSc, she was appointed in 2015 as a laboratory analyst intern at Distell’s Die Bergkelder, and her first harvest made a marked impression upon her: “I worked under the supervision of winemakers Kristin Basson and Pieter Badenhorst. Their passion and drive made me realise how important the role of a winemaker is. All the hard work and effort that goes into it makes you enjoy the end-product so much more.”

Here, her biotech specialisation played a big role. “My majors were genetics, biochemistry and microbiology so this gives me an in-depth understanding of the metabolism of micro-organisms and plant material, and how we can manipulate them to achieve a desired outcome in wine, in an environmentally conscious way.” A year later she was appointed as a harvest cellar intern, and in May this year took up her current position at Nederburg.

Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry has also been significant. “I see more women now working in primary and secondary production. However, when looking at past experiences, I have had to work twice as hard just to prove myself as a capable winemaker.”

Raised by her mother and grandmother, who passed away while she was in High School, Jamie didn’t have to look far for a good example to follow though. “My mother is my biggest inspiration,” says Jamie. “She has worked extremely hard to give me the best in life.”

“It’s important to love who you are and be yourself. Work hard, very hard. Even if you aren’t the smartest or the most talented, hard work surpasses it all. Don’t let past circumstances get in the way of realising your potential,” she says. “I want my legacy to show that no matter where you come from, or what situation you are in, there is always a way out. I am from the Cape flats and that will forever be part of who I am, but should not determine what I accomplish in life.”

Jamie’s Food and Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Jamie suggests the following food pairings with the five Nederburg Heritage Heroes wines, a premium range of wines commemorating Nederburg personalities of the past:

  • The Anchorman Chenin Blanc with a creamy pasta and side of salad. “The wine has a rounder palate due to oak integration, but still shows fresh flavours such as apricots and nectarines.”
  • The Motorcycle Marvel Rhône-style red blend with spicy Cape Malay dishes. The wine “offers an explosion of warm spices such as cloves and cinnamon, yet still manages to hold ripe berry flavours.”
  • The Brew Master Bordeaux-style blend with red meats such as roasted lamb or a braai. “It is a very elegant yet full-bodied wine with dark chocolate, cigar box and vanilla flavours.”
  • The Beautiful Lady Gewürztraminer with charcuterie or a desert. “It is a supremely aromatic wine due to extended skin contact before pressing. It has bursts of Turkish delight and sweet litchi flavours.”
  • The Young Airhawk Sauvignon Blanc with fresh seafood. “It displays lovely green figs and lemongrass flavours with a creamy finish as a result of partial wood maturation.”