The Winemaker

Louis Strydom - Winemaker

“Single-minded focus, a site selected for its ideal growing conditions, and gentle extraction techniques during the winemaking process all combine to create premium, full-bodied wines with the classic Cabernet Sauvignon cues that set apart every bottle of Ernie Els wine.” ~ Louis Strydom, Winemaker.

After graduating from Elsenburg College in Stellenbosch, Louis Strydom joined the team at Saxenburg Wine Estate. During his time there, he worked through several vintages in both Switzerland and France, with extensive travels to the wine regions of Italy, Germany and the USA.

In 1998, Louis joined Rust en Vrede Wine Estate. His consistent skill in winemaking quickly drew the attention of those in the industry and he began to receive awards for his wines. Wine Spectator awarded Louis’ Red Blend (Rust en Vrede Estate Wine) with a Top 100 listing for four consecutive years and the same wine has received a 4 and 5 star award in John Platter on many occasions since then.

In December 2004, Louis left Rust en Vrede to pay more attention to the Bordeaux blend wine called Ernie Els. With two 93/100 ratings in Wine Spectator for its first two vintages, as well as being the first South African red wine to reach such a high score, the Ernie Els Red was also awarded a 4 and 5 star rating consecutively. The 2004 Ernie Els Wine received another 5 Star rating in the 2007 Platter Guide, which was the only Red Blend to achieve this rating at the time.

Through his hands-on approach, Louis’ blended red wines are unique in every sense of the word. His complete dedication and focus on producing premium wines is evident in the quality of the wines he produces. In 2021, Ernie Els Wines was very proud to receive a 5 star Platter award, as well as a Top Red Blend of the Year award for the Proprietor’s Blend 2016. This was swifty followed by another 5 star Platter rating in 2022 with the 2015 vintage of the iconic Signature Bordeaux-style blend.

Louis has been an integral part of Ernie Els Wines for over 20 years and has been a winemaker in the Helderberg region of Stellenbosch for over 25 years. Yet, even with this extensive journey, his impact on the industry continues to reverberate strongly. The recent triumph of his newest release, 2017 Signature, which received an astounding 95 points (gold) at the 2023 Decanter World Wine Awards is a true testament to his continued hard work and skilful craftsmanship.

Cape Winemakers Guild

Louis embodies a strong commitment to educating others in the wine industry, readily and enthusiastically sharing his expertise to foster their growth. This exceptional trait, coupled with his remarkable winemaking prowess, led to his prestigious invitation to the Cape Winemakers Guild. Within the Guild, he not only assumed the role of Chairperson for several years but currently holds the esteemed position of Chairman for the CWG Development Trust. In this capacity, he undertakes diverse responsibilities, including mentoring a protégé every few years, nurturing their journey towards becoming accomplished winemakers themselves. Additionally, Louis actively contributes as a Trustee of Wine Training South Africa and holds a Directorship at Vititec.