We Talk To Corlea Fourie of Bosman Wines

Words: Jess Spiro

Bosman Wines are one of the oldest wineries in South Africa, it’s steeped in local history and their wines really do tell a long, old tale of the Cape’s wines. The farm has a had an interesting life too, in that it made wine up until 1957 and then stopped production for nearly 50 years. In the last 10 years, Bosman Wines has restarted their production and resumed their rightful place in the Cape winemaking scene. Despite the farm’s history, the wines that Boman produces are exciting, refreshed and complex and Corlea Fourie is the person for that. We sit down and chat to her about her winemaking journey, and just what she loves about Bosman Wines.

Bosman wines - Corlea Fourie

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Was it something you always knew you were going to get into?

My family story with wine starts with my grandfather farming with grapes in the Orange River area. My father chose finance over farming but instilled in our family a love and interest in wine. I only put wine and my love for science together during a gap year abroad – working in hospitality. So from my grandfather to my current position – a lot of water has flowed down the Orange River – but I’m so pleased about it.

What was it like re-starting the winemaking process on the Bosman Wines estate after halting production for so many years?

It was a unique experience in where you have history but you need to build up a new reputation. It’s been a rewarding journey, for the most part. The focus on viticulture, all those years when wine was not being made, set up the wine business well, with a wealth of viticultural treasures. We are now reaping the rewards of that.

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

I believe in my team and I believe in our vineyards – that about sums it up. For the rest, it is trying to translate beautiful vineyard’s fruit into enjoyable wines. We try and create unique stories around every wine and to have fun whilst doing it.

Bosman wines - Corlea Fourie

What does your day-to-day actually look like?

That’s the thing, no day is the same. It sometimes involves going to vineyards, tasting in the cellar, visiting a restaurant for a winemaker’s lunch or dinner, meeting with designers for new label ideas. It’s dynamic and ever-changing.

Considering the Bosman Wines cellar is over 250-years old, how do you keep making refreshed and interesting wines?

Working for an 8th generation family means working for a dynamic team that thrives on innovation. You do not stay relevant for that long without being pioneers.  It’s one of the virtues that has grown this business over time. It’s almost the status quo – how do we do things more cleverly? How do we work smarter?

What is it like working so closely with family?

It means that sometimes we make decisions around a dinner table. It has made it quite personal. As we spend more time with our colleagues than with our families-choosing your career family is important.

What do you love about the Wellington region? What makes it unique from other winemaking regions in South Africa?

Cooler climate winemaking is receiving more and more praise and so working in Wellington has been interesting. I have always felt that we needed to explain why making wine in a warmer climate is ok. Since embracing the fact that we do have sunshine and resultant awesome fruit in Wellington, I’ve made my peace. Now, after almost 11 years of just focusing on the wines, it feels that people are also realising this. It’s a #heartWellington happiness.


What have been some of your favourite wines to make?

A single bottling of our very first Cinsaut for the Bosman Wine Club in 2012. With its release in 2013, at our then annual release celebration, it was sold out on the day. Rewarding approval of a special wine.

What wines (or varietals) would you like to see consumers embrace more?

Chenin Blanc remains my favourite varietal and in all its forms: as MCC, sweet wine, dry, petnat, single site, old vine derived, and in bespoke Cape White blends. It’s a South African treasure.

What excites you the most about the South African wine industry?

Working together as producers and also unlocking potential in terms of new entrants to our industry. The young students of programs like the Pinotage Youth Development Academy are adding a touch of excitement to our industry that I truly enjoy.

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced?

I’ve been blessed by working in a supportive environment and with a lot of camaraderie. The challenges I have faced have been sorting out my work/ life integration. Balance is difficult if you enjoy what you do.

What advice do you have for young winemakers starting out?

Get geared for a lifetime of learning – if you stop learning, you are doing it wrong. Relationships are what drive our industry – be nice, share.


Quickfire Questions

If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be? A taster for the Michelin restaurant guide. More realistically – in media. I’m a storyteller at heart.
Your favourite wine to drink that isn’t your own? Kaapzicht 1947 Chenin Blanc for a local touch, and Madame Evelyne de Pontbriand`s Domaine du Closel – Château des Vaults, from Vouvray.
Your ideal comfort food dish? My husband’s cassoulet.


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