Our previous installments of our “Roses amongst the thorns” – female winemakers making their mark, saw the likes of Adele Dunbar, Ilicia Solomons and Stephanie Betts giving us a piece of their mind (but in a good way :) ).
Our last installment of the four part series sees us finding out a little more about Alicia Rechner and what makes her tic.

Background:

A sudden decision on my 16th birthday to relocate the family from our city lifestyle into the country changed my life dramatically. I embraced the charms of the country and just loved the people not dressing up or worrying about how or when they say something. These were my kind of people and with that passion, I decided that I wanted to study and work in the agricultural industry. My first year in University was spent exploring many possibilities, in those days, it appeared that most girls doing an Agricultural Science degree ended up in labs doing research. It was not what I had in mind. With great luck I discovered the magical combined career choice of being a viticulturist / winemaker. I fell in love with every single Wine Estate in this country and to this day, there is nothing more magical than old oak trees on a Wine Estate and the absolute silence of a farm on a Saturday night. I promised myself then that I would one day be living the Wine Estate life.

Early years:

I was very fortunate to have such a big range of winemaking opportunities in my life. My first harvest was in Robertson, a co–op winery, the next in Stellenbosch, a top Estate winery.  I spent 3 years travelling and working 2 vintages a year. In 2001 I was very fortunate to become the winemaker at a legendary South African cellar. There I was surrounded by some of the best mentors I could only have dreamt of. After 7 successful years, my family and I took a 2 year sabbatical. 2 small children and an unsure world, we needed to get out and have a look around. About those two years I can write a book, there is not enough space in this blog, but the funniest thing is that after 2 wild years we ended up on a Wine Estate not 10km from where we came from 2 years ago.

Becoming part of the Fairview team:

In 2011 our Estate became a Fairview Cellar. Being part of a large team and successful business is very exciting. It is just fantastic to see Fairview products everywhere and knowing I am working for this company. It took me a while, but I am really proud and fortunate to work for one of greatest wine personalities in the industry once again. The amount of roses in our team is refreshing, but we need the thorns to keep us stable. Women tend to be a bit over reactive when left alone.

Good thing about your current Job:

After 14 years I am still learning and thinking about my work every day. The longer I do it, the more I see and understand this incredibly big picture of business, product and sales. My job satisfies all my interests. I never have to sit for longer than one hour at a time and get to walk on top of very high tanks! If I feel the need to go outside, I can drive through the vines, or otherwise I can count bottles in the pack store. There is plenty of opportunity to get dirty and even sweat. The opportunities and diversity of situations in the cellar is endless. I can choose what I do all day, because it’s all important and relevant.

Why wine:

The oak trees, the alcohol…these are the things that make me happy.

Triumphs:

Being a mother and still being able to play at my own job.

Future of SA Wine industry:

I believe South Africa can potentially make the best wines in the world. Our position is central; we have fantastic weather, soils and enough water. The carbon footprint of the African continent must be the lowest in the world and by supporting our industry, you help MANY, MANY people. Everyone should really only be buying wines from SA. Our businesses are in as much stress as the rest of the world, but we are a much tougher nation and really should stand together now as South African wines. We should be marketing our wines and country more interestingly. We need a fixed industry bottom selling price for wine (one for Estates and one for Co-ops) and much more education of our consumers to make them understand the real danger of buying product under production cost, people want to enjoy sitting on a Wine Estate, but paying the co –operative cellar prices. Someone should start a SAVE THE WINE ESTATE OF SA. We are loosing some of our most beautiful properties due to estates trying to compete on the bulk market. If the other lovers of alcohol and oak trees can learn to understand this, we would be doing our wine industry a great justice. Not only for the business of the Estate, but for the many people our typical wine estates and farms still house and look after. Awareness. This is the time for being inventive. We have a great country and great product. The best. The future of SA wine industry is bright.

Favorite Grape Variety:

Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Malbec. I dream of making these 3 wines and can relive every moment on the vine, in the crusher, in the tank and in the glass. Fairview has many very interesting grape varieties that you would not see anywhere else in South Africa and I have been able to discover their joys this year for the first time. There is nothing more exciting then learning to know a new variety. Your favourite grape is always the one you spent the most time with and are the most comfortable with. In another 5 years I might tell you I love Tannat, Durif and Grenache. They are all special in their own way. But I drink Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot by the gallons!

 

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