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Alvi’s Drift appoints winemaking consultants

Alvi’s Drift, the award-winning winery from the Breede River Valley in South Africa, has appointed three of the world’s most sought after winemaking consultants to oversee its estate-grown and estate-made wines. John Worontschak and Sam Harrop MW from Litmus Wines are joining forces with fellow consultant Linley Schultz to take charge of the six million litre operation, making them one of the most accomplished winemaking teams in South Africa.

With more than 75 years worth of experience between them the trio will have access to 360 hectares of vineyard, 19 different grape varieties and a state of the art winery to demonstrate their skills. It is an ambitious project that is set to make Alvi’s Drift one of the biggest South African premium wine producers.

Winemaker Linley Schultz has had an illustrious career.  After perfecting his craft in Australia with BRL Hardy and Southcorp amongst others, he moved to South Africa in 2001 to become Chief Winemaker at Distell, responsible for South Africa’s largest range of wines, producing 150 million litres a year.  Now a consultant, Linley is ready to embark on his next new project with Alvi’s Drift and comments, “I’ve worked with John in Australia before and I know how well our winemaking styles compliment each other, so this is an exciting opportunity for me and one I am sure to relish.”

John Worontschak became one of the first “flying winemakers” back in the early 90s and has worked for numerous wineries in over 25 different countries including Douglas Green Bellingham and Graham Beck Wines in South Africa. John comments, “Having seen first hand how well the Alvi’s Drift vineyards are maintained, we’re in great shape to produce wines with plenty of character and personality. Our aim will be to handle the wines with as little intervention as possible to help retain flavour and maintain the typicity of each and every vineyard.”


Sam Harrop MW trained as a winemaker in his native New Zealand, gaining valuable experience at Villa Maria in Auckland and Hawkes Bay before moving to boutique winery Littorai Wines in California.   In the late 1990s he changed direction and spent seven years working as wine buyer for Marks & Spencer, during which time he passed the Master of Wine qualification and travelled the wine regions of the world, before returning to winemaking as a consultant.  He now works with clients across France, Portugal and Spain.  Sam is also co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, the world’s most prestigious international wine competition.

Dr Alvi van der Merwe, owner of Alvi’s Drift, comments: “We were really excited to secure Linley as one of the most eminent winemakers in South Africa.  But to have Litmus Wines also on board is a real coup.  Not only will we have three of the best winemaking consultants in the world providing focused technical input, but the Litmus Wines team will also lead the way with the commercial and marketing aspects of the operation. With Sam and John’s help we will form direct relationships with wine buyers: their experience and hands on approach will be pivotal in finding us immediate routes to market. I feel extremely confident that we have secured the complete package to grasp this joint venture and make it succeed.”




About Alvi’s Drift:
Alvi’s Drift is a family owned winery with estate grown fruit, situated in the Breede River/Worcester area of South Africa.
The farm Alfalfa, on which Alvi’s Drift is located, was originally bought by Alvi snr. in 1928 and is now owned by Bertie and his two sons Alvi, a GP, and Johan, a lawyer.
The 5,000-hectare piece of scenic mountain veld and riverside land has approximately 360 hectares under 19 grape varieties.
Viticultural consultant, Pierre Snyman, oversees the cultivation of the vineyards.
The Alvi’s Drift range (named after the low-water bridge spanning the Breede River on the farm) was first bottled in 2005.
Alfalfa has a fenced 3,000-hectare game farm where game such as Zebra, Hartebees, Eland, Gernsbok, Duiker, Klipspringer, Ostrich and Springbok.
The property has a large area of renosterveld, a rare and endangered type of fynbos which is found only in the Western Cape of South Africa.
The farm has seven kilometres of river frontage.
The farm boasts an intensive dairy operation. Apart from fresh milk distribution, more then a tonne of cheese is made daily.



Litmus Wines
Sam Harrop (left) and John Worontschak (right) established Litmus Wines in 2008. They understand global winemaking styles and trends and work to help their clients improve their wines for global markets.

Based in London, John and Sam consult to clients in 12 different countries.



1 December 2009 - Felicity Murray