Augustus (Gus) Dale has been appointed winemaker and business manager at Elgin Vintners, bringing experience rooted in Burgundy and a passion for the cool-climate winemaking that is Elgin’s signature.
Dale takes over from Dr Marinda Kruger, credited with putting the winery on a positive growth path over the past four years, as she takes up a position as winemaking director with a leading US winery in the Napa Valley.
Dale, 51, trained and spent his early winemaking years in Burgundy, where he produced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and developed his enthusiasm for cooler climate wine regions and a specific interest in sustainable farming and wine production.
He described his new, multi-faceted role at Elgin Vintners as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to make some of the most desired wines in South Africa”.
“Ultimately, I want to achieve the ability to produce consistently good cool-climate wines, with Pinot Noir sitting regally at the top of the pyramid.”
Since settling permanently in the Cape in 2006, he has purposefully sought out cooler climate regions, working for six years in the Hemel-en-Aarde and a decade in the Helderberg area of Stellenbosch. Dale has served in viticulturist and winemaker positions, as well as farm and business manager roles, for wineries including Paul Roos Wine, The Winery of Good Hope, and La Vierge’s Babylon farm.
His most recent position was general manager and winemaker at a property in the Overberg region near Shaw’s Pass.
In addition to winemaking, Dale will oversee vineyard management and manage the entire Elgin Vintners business including wine marketing and distribution and the farm’s hospitality offering of tasting room, Elgin Vintners Country House and events destination.
“I have been intrigued to follow the Elgin Vintners journey from a distance for more than a decade. The past five years, particularly since Marinda’s arrival, have seen an obvious improvement in wine quality, product focus and development, and the holistic approach to building a sustainable agri-business.
“The results have been impressive and inspiring, with Elgin Vintners gaining in its share of space within the marketplace, both nationally and internationally,” Dale said.
Elgin Vintners co-owner James Rawbone Viljoen said the winery’s partners looked forward to working with Dale “as he establishes his own handwriting on a very solid foundation laid by Marinda”.
“Gus has a proven track record in managing vineyards and wine production, and developing people to achieve their full potential. His experience in the fine wine trade, managing of wine exports and luxury tourism will stand him in good stead to drive sustainable growth for Elgin Vintners,” Rawbone-Viljoen said.
Dale said the move to Elgin “feels like home”.
“Elgin Vintners is nicely poised along the road to success and my desire is to be the next person in line to carry the baton forward. The most important achievement would be for the business to be in good financial health with strong working relationships and forward vision, resulting in an excellent product that commands international acclaim, while providing a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle for all involved – from the vines to the table.”