Pieter de Waal, owner and winemaker of Hermit on the Hill Wines, is described by the Platter Guide as “stubborn as an ox and ornery as an ostrich – and he only makes wine when he has the time and inspiration.”
After dabbling in the dark arts of economics and attaining an MBA at the University of Stellenbosch, he started pursuing his career in wine. It all started with running a wine shop, Vinotage, in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town, after which he had the opportunity to assist Mark Savage MW in his wine import, export and distribution business in the United Kingdom. At the same time he completed the Advanced Certificate at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) in London. After this he returned to South Africa to head up Paarl Vintners, followed by a stint of marketing the Durbanville Wine Valley.
Hermit on the Hill Wines were launched with a maiden vintage 2000 Syrah made in conjunction with Clive Kerr of Coleraine Wines, and the range has since grown to include Syrah, Pinot Noir, Grenache as well as a number of red and white blends.
“The Rhône is in my blood” states De Waal, with one of his ancestors credited with having planted the first Syrah vines at the Cape. Before getting married to Lohra, a boutique winemaker in her own right as well as Pilates instructress, Pieter regularly worked the harvest in the South of France with university buddy, Ciaran Rooney.
Over the past ten years the total production of Hermit on the Hill Wines has grown from 2 400 bottles per year to approximately 12 000 bottles.
Pieter acted as the secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG) from 2005 to 2013. He believes that South Africa is ideally suited to producing a diverse, and world-class, range of styles and flavour spectrums from this noble grape variety. He has judged on a number of local Sauvignon Blanc panels, including Veritas, Wine Magazine and Classic Wine, as well as international competitions such as the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon held in Blois, France during April 2013 and the Berliner Weintrophy Competition.
He is a registered tourist guide for the Western Cape specialising in wine tourism, and also a shareholder in Mount Abora Vineyards.
In his free time he takes their Airedale terrier, Boki, on long and uncomforable trips in a 1959 Land Rover, while playing the music of Gogol Bordello as loudly as possible.