Neville Lotz is a first-class sommelier with an exceptional palate. With many years of experience in the field of liquor, wine and food, he’s an event expert and has worked with brands such as Grolsch, Invisible Cities and FNB Art week.
He is the founder of Inevitable Wines and creator of his own maiden vintage, a beautiful wooded Chardonay. I asked him 5 Questions.
Congratulations on your maiden vintage chardonnay, inevitable. What was your motivation on making the leap from brand establishment and product development in the wine industry to creating your own wine?
It was actually an idea that I’ve been toiling with for a while.
One of my good friends, also a wine producer, has been encouraging me for years to take the leap into producing my own wines and last year I finally decided to throw all my marbles into one basket and take that leap!
With a combination of a change of focus and a few personal events, I have come to where I am now. As they say: change is inevitable.
Working with my palate has always been a passion of mine and what better way of putting yourself out there than by doing something that you love – in this case wine, with food coming in a close second. Luckily the two go hand in hand.
I also enjoy the social aspect of the wine industry, as I love working with people. Do what you love, love what you do, and it will always show.
Inevitable wines is not only a play on my name, but a statement to what you can expect to find in the bottle.
According to the 2019 South African Wine Grape Harvest Report issued on 6 May, the 2019 wine grape crop will at 1 225 620 tonnes be 1.4% smaller than last year’s drought-hit crop, and the smallest crop since 2005. Producer profitability remains a concern at an average return on investment (ROI) of 2%, albeit an improvement from 1% in 2017. The South African wine industry has gone through a tough time in the past decade. What is your prediction of the future and where do you think boutique products like yours fit into the market?
There will always be a market for boutiques wines, purely because it’s 100% focused on quality. A product offering is targeted at a small niche segment of the market – it’s a labor of love. Limited, quality product offerings will always create a demand.
My hat goes off to the producers owning the farms – it is definitely not easy being a farmer in today’s day and age. As one of my good farming friends would always say: “dit is tough daar buite”. (It is tough out there).
The Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) in April 2019 stated that South Africans drink 4% less wine than the previous year. Have you seen the same downward trend and what do you prescribe it to?
A big contributing factor would definitely be the ever growing locally produced craft gin, spirits and beer market. Consumers are literally spoilt for choice, with more quality product offerings than ever before. Another causative factor could be the ever growing number in wine exports.
What advice would you give to young aspirant sommeliers on getting into the industry?
First and foremost, know your craft and know your customers. Spend more time at wine farms than in books. 99% of people aren’t interested in the analytics of wine. There’s a big difference between someone that’s excellent at blind tasting wine and someone that’s capable of building an exceptional wine list. Never ever sell out.
The key lies in knowing that no one palate is the same. There’s an age old saying: “the best wine, is the one that you enjoy”.
A man’s life is surely not all work and no play, what’s next for the new wine producer?
Next, I guess would be releasing my maiden vintage barrel selection Shiraz, which was just bottled on 31 July.
There’s definitely a lot happening in the next 12 months, as I’m looking at doubling production next year and releasing two more wines. Inevitable wines just expanded into the Johannesburg market. #WatchThisSpace.
And ps. there’s always time for play!
Copyright © 2019 by Natalie du Preez.
This interview was conceptualised, conducted and authored by Natalie du Preez and is original content, which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.