Andries Blake joined the Swartland Winery in 1996 and set out to create the best quality South African wines. His goal was to develop wines that honored the 350-year winemaking heritage of South Africa by combining the Old World classicism with a contemporary New World, fruit-driven style. “The appeal of South Africa lies in the building blocks it gives you,” says Blake. “It is in the great variations in our climate, in our soils, and the exciting developments of our wine industry that offer the best of the Old and New World.”
Wine has been a part of Blake’s life since childhood. Born on his family’s wine farm, one of the oldest in the Stellenbosch region, some of Blake’s fondest childhood memories are of visiting the vineyards with his father and tasting the grapes. Though his father grew vegetables as well, grapes caught Blake’s attention and led to his dream of becoming a winemaker. To achieve his goal, he studied viticulture and oenology at Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch. After graduating, he joined Rooiberg Cellars in the Robertson Valley, where he focused on red wine making. Apart from his formal education, Blake spent time in several of the world’s top winemaking regions including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, and the United States in order to gain insight into the fast-growing industry.
While developing Sebeka® Wines, Blake worked with several wineries. His team started in the vineyards to ensure that only grapes with optimal characteristics were hand- selected for the Sebeka blends. As a winemaker, Blake finds that one of the true joys of wine is that there is no recipe; every year is different and no two vintages are exactly alike. Through his knowledge and expertise, he constantly strives to offer something new and unique to consumers. For over 20 years, Blake has worked with other winemakers to create wines that exemplify the best of South Africa. Today, he heads the Swartland Winery together with viticulturist Klaas Coetzee to produce vibrant South African wines; they have perfected a signature winemaking technique that brings forward a bold fruit profile with distinctive notes of mineral sweet brown spice. Through their modern winemaking style, they have helped Swartland become one of the most respected wineries in South Africa.
Currently living in Malmesbury with his wife, Marinda, and their two sons, Johan and Andries Jr., Blake can be found admiring the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife of South Africa. Whether it is walking through the vineyards, playing rugby with his sons, fishing or sharing family outings in the great South African bush, he enjoys exploring the wonders of this unique and majestic land.