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Boela Gerber to take over at Virginia’s Southwest Mountains Vineyards

Esteemed winemaker Boela Gerber has decided to leave Groot Constantia after enjoying a 22-year stint at the award-winning South African winery.

Boela Gerber is heading to the United States for a new adventure in the heart of the Monticello AVA in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He will be taking over as the winemaker at Southwest Mountains Vineyards, a new winery located in the Keswick area of Albemarle County.

Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Petit Manseng, Grüner Veltliner, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are among the varietals being produced there.

It marks an exciting new chapter for Gerber, who took over as winemaker at Groot Constantia in January 2001, six years after graduating from Stellenbosch University with a degree in oenology and viticulture.

He emerged as one of the most tireless and passionate champions of high-end South African wine, and he also spent two years chairing the Cape Winemakers Guild.

Gerber said it had been an honour and a privilege to work at Groot Constantia – the oldest wine estate in South Africa – for more than two decades.

The winery is famed for its high-quality reds, including Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage and the Gouverneurs Reserve blend.

‘It has been career-defining to be a part of the winemaking team that played a leading role in establishing Groot Constantia as a producer of fine wines among local and international consumers and in being an ambassador for South Africa’s oldest wine-producing farm, with its rich heritage and history,’ said Gerber.

‘Leaving was not an easy decision to make, but I am very excited about this new adventure in the heart of the scenic Monticello AVA in central Virginia.

‘Groot Constantia and the team will always have a special place in my heart, and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved. I know that the team – under the guidance of Floricius Beukes, Groot Constantia’s viticulturist, Jean Naudé, and the new winemaker – will continue to excel in the years ahead.’

Gerber will now head to Virginia to start work at Southwest Mountains Vineyards, which plans to open this summer.

There are more than 350 wineries in Old Dominion, and it is the eighth-largest wine producing state in America.

The Monticello AVA was established in 1984 after six growers petitioned the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to designate a Monticello viticultural area, which is named after the estate of former US president Thomas Jefferson.

It spans five counties and 320,000 hectares, straddling the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are 40 wineries in the AVA.

‘We are happy for him as he takes on this new role and flies the South African flag proudly on the global stage,’ said Groot Constantia chief executive Jean Naudé.

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