LIVING A DREAM OF CULTIVATING FINE WINE NATURE’S WAY
Before even enrolling for his academic studies in agriculture and the crafting of wine at Stellenbosch University’s Elsenburg College, Johan Gerber started his childhood dream and journey of crisscrossing the globe to gain experience at some of the finest wineries in Australia, several of the wine valleys in California and renowned cellars in his beloved Cape Winelands.
During his studies and after graduating, he continued with his drive to explore various wine offerings and learn from the best in the industry. Between 2004 and the end of 2020, when he joined Org de Rac as the fulfilment of where he wanted to live his dream, his wine crafting experiences were spread over three continents. 2004 he started as a cellar assistant at De Toren Private Cellar in Stellenbosch. Then followed Imagery Private Cellar in Sonoma, California.
Shortly after obtaining his degree in 2007, he joined Bleasdale Vineyards in Langhorne Creek, South Australia. In 2008, he moved to Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley and, in 2009, back to South Australia’s d’Arendberg. In 2010, he completed his international stint in California’s Alexander Valley at Clos du Bois.
Back in South Africa, he crafted wines at Bergkelder in Stellenbosch, Robertson’s Rooiberg Cellar, Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards near Stellenbosch (from 2012 to 2016) and from 2016 to 2020, he was the winemaking manager at the local cellar in Koelenhof of the international group Origin Wine.
At the end of 2020, his dream and passion for sustainable farming were fulfilled when he was appointed as the general manager of Org de Rac – allowing him to grow grapes and craft wines by working in nature’s way and within an environment that secures and enhances the livelihoods of the farm’s families. His three pillar dream – the organic way, the uniqueness of the Swartland Wine of Origin terroir and people’s development through the alignment of the Fairtrade system, is now lived by him.
For him, it is a pleasure and his passion to be involved in all the aspects of a wine business – the vineyards, crafting of wine, marketing and sales.
“My complete responsibilities at Org de Rac is the dream of most winemakers. And most importantly, to see how the brand grows and when running the numbers, the figures must add up and reflect sustainability,” Gerber says.
Whilst concentrating on the various crafting methods of making exceptional fine wines, since 2004, Johan also schooled himself and always showed a keen interest in the commercial and marketing side of the wine industry. Therefore, ensuring to align the art of creating trophy category wines at the right price with sustainability at a business level. Shortly after joining Org de Rac, he excelled in organic methods by introducing additional environmentally friendly farming practices. He spearheaded the marketing drive of creating new labels, which was immediately embraced on the consumer level.
“The enormous potential of Org de Rac, one of the oldest organic wineries in the Cape, founded by the late Nico Bacon in 2000, attracted me to take up this opportunity, as the global growth of organic wines is exponential and increasing sturdily. The solid international development in the nature’s way sector has started to excel in the South African market, with more and more wine lovers demanding to know where and how their preferred wine was crafted. It is our aim, thus, to ensure Org de Rac is in the correct position to emerge as one of the Cape’s leading organic wineries.”