The Story of Spijker & Bessie Wines

During the 2019 harvest season, my kind next-door neighbours, Hennie and Theresa Visser of the Lovane Boutique Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, gave me an opportunity to create a small batch of experimental red wine in their cellar.

In 2020 we decided to add Sauvignon Blanc to our range, and what started out as a fun family endeavour quickly evolved into a difficult scenario as the reality of the COVID-19 lockdown period dawned on us – no wine sales for months!

As a long-time resident of the beautiful town of Stellenbosch, I’m fortunate to have a large number of thirsty wine-drinking friends and family members, and when the alcohol sales prohibition was repealed, we were finally able to release our two “wine babies” into the world.

I needed to name my “wine babies” and wanted to do something unique from the outset. A name that is easy to pronounce and without the pretentiousness that often intimidates wine buyers. Who would have thought that two beloved bovines would lend their names to the creation of Spijker & Bessie.

The first vintage’s wines were all bottled, corked, and labelled by hand, and my three sons pitched in whenever possible.

Initially, I planned to sell the wines only to friends and family, but with rising demand, who knows where these two bovines will lead us.

When that day arrives, I will be able to produce wine until the cows come home.

Winemaker – Annelie viljoen

About Me

I grew up in Stellenbosch and consider it to be my hometown. My father, Bennie Schloms, was arguably the most passionate soil scientist and instilled in me a love of science at a young age.

My spouse, De Wet Viljoen, the current winemaker at Wildekrans Wine Estate, and I studied B.Sc. Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. In 2001, I was the only post graduate student in Viticulture under the supervision of Prof. Eben Archer, a close family friend. Viticulture was more thrilling to me, and the concept of being outside among the vines appealed to me far more than being stuck inside a cold wine cellar.

My viticultural career began at Lourensford, and then I worked as a lecturer at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute. I then worked as a grape buyer for Distell’s Zonnebloem, Fleur du Cap, and Nederburg ranges, where I learned that the relationship between the producer and the grape buyer is one of the most important in our industry.

Since 2017, I’ve been working as the viticulturist and grape buyer for the world-famous Kanonkop Estate’s extremely popular Kadette brand.

Juggling my day job, winemaking, and raising three teenage boys is a serious challenge, but I love every minute of it, and there is no greater reward than seeing people enjoy our wines!

Annelie Viljoen
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