After months of rumours and partial information, the radical extent of what the change is FROM at Lammershoek is now clear, but what things are changing TO remains publicly uncertain.
Lammershoek, in the Aprilskloof of the Paardeberg, has been an important part of the modern Swartland over the last decade and more, as one of the few large farms associated with the wine revolution there. It took a while for the Lammershoek wines themselves to fully adopt the largely “natural” approach they’ve taken under the Craig Hawkins cellar regime since the 2010 vintage – but the inherent quality of the farm, as revealed in what was made before then, shone through.
Pointing to the integral part played by Lammershoek, Eben Sadie’s winery is on a piece of land once part of that farm, with his cellar just a hundred metres or so from Lammershoek’s, and he has always taken grapes from Lammershoek for his white Palladius.
Ownership of Lammershoek has been somewhat problematical – or at least complicated. Paul Kretzel and family have been a constant, but a few years back their original German partners sold out to some others (as I understand it) – a team including the great German footballer Franz Beckenbauer. I knew about this connection, but it was indicated that I should rather not mention the Kaiser’s name – though it was a good story.
As to whether Beckenbauer retains any interest following the latest sale, I simply don’t know yet. I have no wish to push the Kretzels or Craig Hawkins on the issue of the change, and, sadly, the new CEO and part-owner, one Andreas Abold, hasn’t responded to the enquiring email I sent him last week.
It is clear that the Kretzels have also sold their interest in Lammershoek in the latest ownership move. Paul (who’s been deeply involved in the organic viticulture of the farm) and Anna Kretzel will be staying on, I believe, until after the 2015 harvest, providing an element of continuity. But the winemaking team of Craig Hawkins and Jurgen Gouws are out by the end of the year, as is Carla Kretzel (formerly in charge of sales and marketing).
So – it’s not a sign of a happy, smooth takeover, it seems to me, that the winemaking core leaves a month before harvest. But, as I said, Lammershoek is important to the revolutionary Swartland. Let’s hope we can expect a fine new team in place before the grapes are ripe – even if the latter are perhaps going to be allowed to hang a little longer than when Craig made the picking decision…
And let’s wish Jurgen Gouws well with his fine Intellego wines, and Craig and Carla well with their Testalonga brand (whether they’ll still be sourcing grapes from Lammershoek is yet another thing I haven’t pushed for information on). Viva the Swartland revolution, viva!