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Distell's new team

Published:  23 July, 2008

SA introduce chief winemakers

SOUTH Africa's largest producer of wines and spirits has announced its team of chief winemakers. Distell, which was formed by the merger of Distillers Corporation and Stellenbosch Farmers Winery, produces more than 43% of the country's high-quality wines. The six appointees are Callie van Niekerk, Razvan Macici, Frans du Toit, Niel Bester, Melanie van der Merwe and Newald Marais. Marais, Nederburg's chief winemaker for the past 11 years, will advise the group on new wine styles and co-ordinate wine production activities. "Nederburg is one of South Africa's best-known international wine brands and we intend expanding this flagship by introducing progressive new winemaking styles and innovative products," said Hennie Heyl, Distell's primary production director. Macici, originally from Romania and until recently cellar master of Zonnebloem wines, takes over from Marais as chief winemaker at Nederburg. Van der Merwe, who will head Distell's sparkling wine production, is one of South Africa's top women winemakers and has been involved in the group's sparkling wine brands for six years. Van Niekerk, with 25 years' experience, will head the group's combined cellars in Stellenbosch. Bester has been with Plaisir de Merle since 1993 and will continue the estate's tradition of award-winning wines. Du Toit, who has been with the Drostdy Cellar in Tulbagh for 32 years, will continue to head the production facility there.