Joel was born and bred on the family wine farm and distillery in the Cape Winelands of South Africa. Begrudgingly operating his father’s tractor, helping prune and nurture the vines from the age of 12, he soon came to love viticulture and everything that goes with it.
After a gap year in 2007, tractor driving and labouring on a biodynamic farm in Hampshire, Joel returned to South Africa to study Viticulture, Pomology and Agricultural Engineering at the world-renowned University of Stellenbosch. Whilst harvesting knowledge there, he also worked nights as a sommelier in the Wijn Huis (wine house) restaurant which served over 700 different local wines. After graduating three years later, he found himself back in the UK managing organic vineyards, hop gardens and apple orchards. Here he not only learned how to improve a soil’s natural microbiology and all about sustainable farming practices, but also how to manage and train people into a happy and productive workforce. When asked why he wanted to battle the challenging English weather when he could be ‘back home’ he said, “It’s too easy to produce decent grapes there and I thrive under challenging conditions. It’s also incredibly exciting being so deeply involved with the flourishing UK wine industry! Working with Vine-Works has given me the opportunity to visit, study and manage sites across the UK, confirming my beliefs of the necessity of perfect site selection, scion-rootstock affinity and proper hands-on management practices in order to produce a premium quality, healthy crop every year”.