With 15 harvests under her belt across four continents, and an MSC in Viticulture and Oenology, Jolette Steyn launched her own label of wines in 2021 with the release of two unique small-production Semillons from the 2018 vintage. At the end of 2021, she was named Platter Guide's Newcomer of the Year 2022. And boy are we excited for her future!
Jolette's wines draw on a number of influences, from the surrealist movement, to her keen interest in dadism, and a fascination with dragons and cartographers too. But perhaps most of all, from many hours spent on the road stumbling on vineyards across the Western Cape. Disappointed seeing these sites devoid of life other than the manicured vines, Jolette seeks out sustainably farmed parcels that prioritise biodiversity and soil health, whilst applying avant-garde and low intervention winemaking techniques. Most of all, the idea is to have a bit of fun whilst making honest, respectful, elegant and hopefully thought-provoking wines. Both images (from an artist in Madrid) on the labels have a bit of movement and energy, and completely open to interpretation - thus a party.
Both wines are produced from Semillon, from the same 18 year old vineyard on a north-east facing slope in the Helderberg, Stellenbosch, planted on decomposed granite. And the unusual names you may ask? Both with great stories behind them too!
"I'm your Huckleberry" has two meanings. It is a phrase from a nineties Western, called Tombstone, and a particular scene where Val Kilmer's character shows up to a duel and delivers this line. It signifies acceptance of a challenge, saying 'I'm the one you're looking for'; 'Call me, I'll answer'; 'Tell me where, I'll show up/I'll be there', 'I'm it'. So, in part, it's a chat between Sémillon and herself, saying 'Let's do this, let's be there, let's show up!' It was also the name of a black Labrador whom Jolette loved dearly, and part of the team of her favourite and most influential harvest team in a small town called Lompoc in California.
"Here be Dragons" also has a two-fold story behind it. In the Sherlock Holmes series, Sherlock asks his brother why he is needed, or why he should go on with his work. His brother, Mycroft, replied: 'Here Be Dragons'. It's a quote that Jolette had written down to help her remember that fortune favours the brave, to always be creative and challenge the norms.
Jolette also admits to have a long term fascination with dragons, and how during medieval times, cartographers and explorers drew images of sea monsters or dragons on unexplored or dangerous territories on maps, or they wrote 'Hic Sunt Dracones' or 'Here Be Dragons.' This new project, and exploring Semillon through a new and unusual angle with the different vinification techniques is unexplored territory too.