Bruce Jack—of Flagstone Wines fame—is also the owner and winemaker of a more boutique enterprise, The Drift Estate in the Overberg Highlands. He lives here with his wife Penelope and their two sons, Robert and Benjamin.
Written by Malu Lambert, food and wine writer
Tell us about your farm, The Drift?
Embraced by a mind-blowing biodiversity of indigenous plant and animal life, the estate sits halfway up the southern-most mountain range in South Africa. An equitable climate and fresh water are obvious benefits, but there’s something else as well. It’s the way the sun creeps into kloofs and lights up the granite ramparts of the mountain. It’s the wildlife responding to our custodianship. It’s how the wind fills the valley and clears your head. Often on walks around the estate something unexplained happens – a tingling heat seeps through the soles of your shoes and up your spine. My main focus is to capture this energy in a bottle of wine.
Tell us about your kids?
We have two boys: Robert is 18 and Benjamin, 15. They are both amazing guys – well, they amaze me every day with their intelligence and imagination. Rob is studying at Stellenbosch University and Ben is in boarding school. They are both articulate, passionate and, like their mom, very good looking!
Why the decision to plant barbera on South African soil?
Who isn’t in love with Northern Italy? It’s a corner of the world dripping in style and taste. It’s a very sexy variety and from the moment I first tasted it many years ago, I’ve always wanted to make it. However, I actually didn’t think it would do well on my estate. But I was very wrong. It is a sensational little vineyard. It is planted in the warmest pocket on an otherwise very cool farm. Despite my misgivings, to many, this is the essence of The Drift Estate.
How does our South African barbera square up to the Italian?
Our style is more opulent, more sophisticated and polished, but there is wonderful charm in the more rustic styles of wine from Italy. I would drink any of them with great pleasure as well.
Where should we be planting barbera?
Barbera is a perfect variety for most of South Africa because it has such a natural high acidity. This means it has a naturally low pH, which makes winemaking easy. The colour is intense with purple edges, which indicates all other elements are good as well. It is a bit of a princess, though. You need to really care for it in the vineyard. The most important thing is to walk the vineyard every day after budburst and tell the vines how much you love them. Words of affirmation are definitely this variety’s love language.
How have you applied your wine philosophies to your parenting?
Some of the best parenting advice I ever got was from Solly Kramer, a true legend in the SA booze business. Firstly, stop telling your kids how proud you are of them. That doesn’t really feed them. It just makes the parent feel better. Rather, when they have achieved something, just say: “You must be so proud of yourself for doing that.” They will beam and nod and will know you love them and that you recognise their achievements. They need to do things for themselves, not for you. The sooner they learn that, the happier and more content they’ll be in life. Other than that, just love them. It’s exactly the same for wine.
Win bottled magic from The Drift
One lucky reader will win a three-pack of wine from this magical Overberg farm, valued at R915. This hamper will contain:
Year of the Rooster Rosé 2017 (R135)
Penelope Brut Rosé MCC 2015 (R395)
Moveable Feast 2015 (R385)
To enter, simply complete the entry form below. Terms and conditions apply. Competition ends 30 June 2018.