Boela Gerber – a gentle giant

Upon first meeting Boela Gerber, winemaker at Groot Constantia since the 1st of January 2001, the word grounded immediately comes to mind. The dictionary definition of grounded is to be admirably sensible, realistic and (above all) unpretentious. Such a person remains grounded despite all the praise and attention, the dictionary also says. Such is Boela.

 

When asked about Groot Constantia’s award-winning wine and the role he has played in making this wine, he says:”I merely use what Groot Constantia’s terroir offers me”.

Those in the know say that he truly understands the climate and soil of the region and that he translates this into his own – or Groot Constantia’s – unique and expressive wines. According to Boela himself he is but “a cog in the wheel”.

Statements like these could appear contrived or affected but when Boela says this it comes across as from the heart.

Over a glass of Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc at Jonkershuis Boela exudes passion for his job as winemaker, Groot Constantia estate where he works and the outdoors –from the contours at for mountain biking to surf skiing in Hout Bay.

We talk primary schools playing rugby – Boela grew up in the northern suburbs of Cape Town; we reminisce about the social scene at the University of Stellenbosch of yesteryear; he confesses with a grin that the new baby in the house makes him smile when she smiles but when she wants a bottle of milk at half past four in the morning, it doesn’t quite evoke a smile. But yes, he can’t wait for the baby to be big enough so that the family of three – Boela, Michaela and Georgina – can travel together – he’d love to visit Croatia as well as Cambodia; he’s curious about Japan and their way of life; he’d love to drive to Malawi and once there, to snorkel in Monkey Bay. Hmm, this is coming from a man who at first thought he would rather not get married as he wanted to be free enough to pack his car to head for the Kalahari or Botswana whenever the urge was there.

Among his friends who also serve as inspiration Boela counts Jan Boland Coetzee (“he’s a beaut” and “if Jan talks people listen”) and Jeff Grier (“whilst some French estates and winemakers struggle to keep head above water, Jeff makes it work”). He keeps rattling of names like Kevin Arnold, Jacques Borman (from Boschkloof), Adi Badenhorst (of Secateurs fame) and “Braam (van Velden) from Overgaauw”.

Whilst Boela gives recommendations of what to have at Jonkershuis Restaurant I ask him what would be on the menu if he had to choose his last meal on earth. As starter “my wife’s fishcakes – she adds a bit of orange rind – with tartare sauce” it comes unhesitatingly. It proves a bit more difficult to settle on a main course. A good ole’ braai or bredie  might do the thing. Ribeye steak comes to mind. It could be grilled salmon or, then again, coq au vin. Beef bourguignon. As long as it doesn’t have to be offal!

But for dessert undoubtably the cheesecake served at Jonkershuis.

And the wines. Nothing but Groot Constantia of course.

New Visitor Route Experience:

Enjoy the new Visitor Route Experience where one ticket gives you entrance into the Manor House museum, original Cloete Cellar, a cellar tour, wine tasting and Spiegelau Crystal wine glass. Groot Constantia is open 7 days a week (except Christmas Day and Good Friday) and offer wine tastings, chocolate and wine pairings and has two restaurants on site: Jonkershuis Restaurant and Simon’s Restaurant. Buy your wine on the estate, request an order online and from top wine houses and purveyors internationally.

Visitors Route Experience Ticket: R95 per person.

Visitors Route Experience Ticket + Chocolate & Wine Pairing: R140 per person.

Chocolate & Wine Pairing only: R120 per person.

Wine Tasting only: R75 per person.

Download Free Self-Guided Museum Audio Tour, Cellar Audio Tour, Vineyard Audio Tour.

Wine Tasting and Chocolate & Wine Pairing – available at all 3 wine tasting areas until 16h30.

No need to book.

A full slab of Chocolate can be bought from the Groot Constantia Tasterooms: R55 per slab

Groot Constantia

Wine Club

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