Irene (Waller) de Fleuriot from La Bri only became a winemaker at the age of 36 but she’s now one of the country’s top winemakers and will be showcasing some of her wines at the upcoming Women of Wine South Africa (WoWSA) Festival.
It takes place on Sunday, August 12 from 11h00 to 16h00, in celebration of Women’s Month at the Candlewood Boutique Venue in Centurion, and also features craft beer, gin and tequila made by women.
Says De Fleuriot: “I first trained as an accountant so have a B Com from UCT. I then went on to be a maths and accounting teacher. I quit teaching officially in 1996 as I had made up my mind to become a winemaker. I then spent the next five years travelling between Australia, South Africa and Europe to gain wine experience. To pay my way I taught maths in the UK. In 2001 I returned to the University of Stellenbosch to study BSC Agric and was awarded the Professor Perold trophy for being the top student.”
But what made her change direction from accounting to winemaking? “I did a Cape Wine Academy prelim course in 1996 which ignited in me a desire to know more about wine, and after much travelling and studying I finally became a winemaker at the ripe old age of 36! You are never too old to find your true calling and passion in life.”
Tell us about one or two of your wines that will be shown at WoWSA and what food would they pair well with?
La Bri Chardonnay 2017 – a classically elegant chardonnay made from 27-year-old vines. A wine for all day drinking or classic food pairing with summer lunches and seafood platters. I will also be showing the La Bri Affinity 2014; La Bri Syrah 2015 and La Bri Merlot 2016
How will you be spending Women’s Day and what is your wish for women?
I’ll be celebrating the strong women in my life who have always been there for me
How difficult is it as a woman winemaker in what is still a male dominated industry?
If you believe in yourself as a winemaker I believe any obstacles can be overcome.
Do women bring a different touch to winemaking than men?
Without generalising, I think a certain attention to detail is evident in wine made by women
What do you enjoy about your job?
Every day is a new day with new challenges – you learn to expect the unexpected
Anything else you would like to add?
This event is a fantastic opportunity for women to share their passion and love for the wine that they make.
In addition to the unlimited tastings on offer at WoWSA, guests will have the option of purchasing a wide variety of foods. There’s everything from mini bunny chows (chicken, lamb, fish, curry and vegetarian) served with sambals; cheese platters; lasagna with salad and paella to a taco station.
All wines at the tasting event will be on offer to purchase and drink with lunch as well as to take home. Wine Menu will deliver purchased wines for a small additional fee.
Music will add to the relaxed atmosphere and there will be entertainment for children.
Numbers are limited so booking is essential. Tickets are R150 a person with children under the age of 18 free.