Taking Extreme Care of Our Vineyards & Our People
De Toren Private Cellar is not only renowned for its craftsmanship in the vineyards and in the cellar, but also for taking exceptional care of our people. Our quest for absolute perfection would not be possible without the remarkable members of the extended De Toren family and so we thought it well to introduce one of the valuable members of our team to you. The man of the moment, is no one other than our astute Cellar Assistant, Jeremy Kellerman.
Jeremy, how long have you been with De Toren?
On the 1st of September this year, I will be part of the De Toren family for 12 years already, so just more than a decade. What a journey it has been so far – one that I’m very appreciative of! I’ve learned so much over the years, working myself up from a casual vineyard worker, to De Toren’s appointed Cellar Assistant today.
Tell us a bit more about what your role at De Toren entails?
I am currently in the position of Cellar Assistant, funnily enough very closely related to the meaning of my surname, ‘Kellerman’ which means ‘Cellar Man’ if translated directly. My role as Cellar Assistant here at De Toren mainly entails the management of all cellar activities, as well as the overseeing of all cellar staff’s daily tasks, ensuring that everything is implemented accurately and effectively. This includes the sterilising and maintenance of fermentation equipment, the emptying of barrels, the blending of our Bordeaux styled blends amongst many, many other activities. I am essentially here to support the winemaking team in their daily roles and responsibilities.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
In all honesty, I truly love each and every aspect of my job so it’s rather challenging to pin point only one particular part that stands out above the rest. I have been here for twelve wonderful years, so that speaks for itself. What I can however say, is that harvest season remains one of my favourite times of the year. The reason for this would be that not one season is exactly the same as the previous. Each harvest season comes with its own unique characteristics and challenges, which always makes it a great opportunity to learn something new!
How did you develop your interest in Bordeaux wines?
When I first started my journey with De Toren as a casual vineyard worker, I immediately became fascinated by the meticulous and precise winemaking process behind the crafting of Bordeaux styled blends. It was truly amazing to see, for the first time ever, how each of the five Bordeaux grape varietals made its way all the way from the vineyard to the cellar, right through to the maturation room’s French oak barrels to undergo the silent discipline of ageing. It goes without saying that this automatically left me wanting to know more.
De Toren has a unique winemaking philosophy of “Extreme Care” which is more intensive than most other estates worldwide. How does that play out in your daily role?
It’s true, “extreme care” is at the core of everything that we do here at De Toren and there is no exception to the rule when it comes to the implementation of daily tasks in the cellar. My role as Cellar Assistant is to ensure to pay attention to detail and to double check everything, sometimes even triple check. To give you a simple example, one of my main responsibilities is to ensure that anything and everything that gets into contact with our De Toren wine is completely made safe and sterilised. Ultimately, making sure that the wine’s quality is not affected under any circumstance. So yes, it really is all in the extreme attention to detail here at De Toren.
What do you enjoy most about working so closely alongside Winemaker, Martin Fourie?
The thing I appreciate most working alongside Martin is the fact that I get to learn so much from him. Not only do we have a good friendship, but he is a great mentor – always providing valuable and constructive criticism. I have been with De Toren almost twelve years and have worked with Martin for five of those years and yet I have so much more to learn from him. We also always have a good laugh in the cellar and share the same taste in music!
Why do the two of you make such a great team?
Since Martin also wants to see me grow and progress in my daily tasks, he is always looking out for me and supporting me in the best possible way to ensure I reach my full potential in everything that I do here at De Toren. Due to his mentoring style and my willingness to learn from him, I think we make a great team.
What are you most proud of achieving during these trying times with Covid-19?
I think I just realised again what a privilege it is to form part of the De Toren family – standing together in total unity in trying times like these. Definitely something I am proud of!
How has the fight against COVID-19 affected your everyday life and role?
The biggest affect COVID-19 caused on my everyday life and role here at De Toren is the strict implementation of certain operational regulations and procedures, especially with regards to personal hygiene. It definitely made me even more conscious than ever in all aspects of my daily tasks. At the same time, I think we all learnt from this experience and will continue to apply these extreme measures going forward.
What positives have come out of the team during this challenging time?
There is no doubt about it that this has been a rather challenging time, not only for our De Toren team, but for a lot of people across the globe. I am however, very proud to have formed part of the De Toren team during this trying time. De Toren always strives to take great care of their workers or team members. Hence, I am very thankful to have still earned my full income to continue supporting my family during this time. As for our team, this pandemic definitely brought us closer together and made us even more of a unit.
Jeremy, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you for joining us in our pursuit of perfection. We and our valued clients truly appreciate your hard work and look forward to seeing what the future holds for you at De Toren Private Cellar for many years to come.