Estate Manager / Winemaker at Wildeberg


Winemaking experience

·   Boland Cellars | Head Winemaker | 6 years
·   Franschhoek Cellars | Head Winemaker | 2 ½ years
·   Wildeberg [Boutinot] | Estate Manager & Winemaker | 1 Sept 2017

Favourite country [other than South Africa]

Describe South Africa
Breath-taking, diverse, challenging, home, great people

Gets inspiration from…
Honest, down to earth people that make a success of their lives

Favourite dish
A good old traditional South African braai with braaibroodjies

Strangest thing ever eaten
Frogs legs

Famous last words…
We regret more the things in life we didn’t do than the things we did

First car
A red Opel

Wine world excitement...
Diversity, ever changing, the people

JD stands for…?
Jan du Plessis, a family name… but JD is much easier to say!

About JD

JD Baby Photo.jpg

JD was destined to be a winemaker even before he was born. Whilst pregnant, his mother helped with pressings and punch downs in their family winery, so wine was always 'in the blood'. His earliest memories are of the “floral aromas in the winery while the fermentations were happening”. JD always wanted to be a winemaker and it all came so naturally whilst helping his father in their Paarl winery and studying wine-making at Stellenbosch University.


JD’s focus is to develop the Wildeberg farm, winery and barrel store. “It’s every winemaker's dream of starting from scratch, planting vines and building your own barrel store and winery… I’m truly privileged”. He also sources and makes the Boutinot wines from South Africa’s Coastal Region (Swartland, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Darling areas). “I love creating wine. It’s challenging especially with fluctuating prices, weather, quality and style that change every year. You have to be an artisan…every year you start over and one day is different to the next”.

For JD, there’s no grey area in winemaking – it’s either black or it’s white, it’s right or it’s wrong. “You really need to focus on the small stuff in the vineyards through to the bottle because if you slip up on any part, the wine won’t be any good. For me, wine is made in the vineyards and I’m just there to guide it into the bottle with limited intervention, keeping it pure and not fake. Wildeberg is amazing. It’s an inspiring place and the love for nature and the wildness definitely comes through in the wines”.


When it comes to choosing his pet varietals to work with, JD favours Chenin Blanc and Shiraz because of their diversity. “There’s so much you can do with Chenin, from sparkling through to sweet dessert wine, wooded or unwooded. Shiraz will give you totally different flavours depending on where you plant it - closer to the coast in cooler areas gives you spice and cinnamon flavours whilst more towards the hotter climates you get extracted plum and blackberry flavours. The diversity of the two varietals is excellent”.

Given the recent drought situation in South Africa, focus has shifted to more drought resistant cultivars and the planting of Mediterranean varietals. Boutinot and the South African wine-making team’s determination to focus on what works best where over the past five years has really paid off. “The Capeography range really showcases this. For example, the Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin or Grenache Blanc from dry land vines of Swartland are fantastic wines that highlight what is best to plant where rather than planting just what you want to make”.


JD would also love to see more ‘bottled in South Africa’ wines in the market...

“There's huge benefit on quality. Bottling at source means less oxygen uptake and just better quality wine in the bottle. A good example are mangos – they always taste better when eaten in the country they’re grown – it’s the same with wine, it’s always going to taste better when bottled at source. There’s also a big benefit to the SA economy… creating jobs, giving back to all the people that help make South African wine... that’s really important”.