SPEAKERS PROFILE - CONRAD VLOK


Before embarking on a career in winemaking, however, Conrad took a detour and began a marketing course at the Cape Technikon which led him to a year-long adventure in Mozambique from 1991 to 1992. But this was not the end of his wanderlust. Only after spending another year working on yachts in the Caribbean, did his journey finally bring him back home during 1994, a watershed year for South African democracy. It took another detour, this time a three-year stint in the building trade, before he finally answered his true calling and returned to winemaking at Darling Cellars in January 1998. Here he honed his skills as assistant winemaker to Abe Beukes for three years. In 2003 he was appointed cellarmaster by Spatz Sperling at Delheim. After two years, he moved to Baarsma where he 

 gained valuable insights under Chris Rabie, as production manager and grape buyer into the entire wine production process and the diverse winegrowing regions stretching from Lutzville on the West Coast all the way to Bonnievale in the Robertson Wine Valley. 

In 2004 he realised his true destiny, when the opportunity arose to join the small boutique Strandveld Vineyards cellar near Elim. “When the opportunity arrived to go and make wine and manage a vineyard in South Africa’s new vineyard frontier, Elim, I could not resist,” says Conrad, who together with his family has made Strandveld Vineyards his home. 

As the first winemaker to press grapes from Strandveld’s own vineyards in 2005, Conrad has a close affinity to the soil, the vineyards and the cellar and 2015 marks his 11th harvest at this southernmost wine estate. The white cultivars Conrad currently specialises in are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, especially a blend of the two as portrayed in his highly acclaimed Adamastor. Amongst the reds, his focus is on Shiraz, Grenache and Pinot Noir. 

When Conrad is not working in the vineyards or the cellar, you can find him in the veld or line fishing from his sea kayak in the Atlantic off Cape Agulhas.