Top chef to turn winemaker

Cathy Marston chats to top chef Peter Tempelhoff about a possible career change.

03 Aug 2012

Currently presiding over Eat Out’s Restaurant of the Year, The Greenhouse, there is no doubt that Peter Tempelhoff has created plenty of waves in the SA culinary scene for his delicious, inventive, meticulous, flavour-packed food. But not so many people know that his spare time is spent, not in the kitchen trialling new recipes, but in the vineyards, making his own wine.

'It started three years ago when Miguel Chan was our sommelier' says Peter. 'He and I decided to try and make some wine and enlisted Adam Mason, then winemaker at Klein Constantia to help us.'

They sourced some Pinot Noir grapes from Outeniqua and, with Peter and Miguel doing the hands-on work in the cellar, guided by Adam, the first batch of Yardstick wine was made. Following Miguel’s departure to take up the reins of Southern Sun group sommelier in Johannesburg (he still makes wine under his own label called Stigma), Peter and Adam decided to go ahead on their own and are now into their third vintage.

Food-friendly wines

The key to their range is that all the wines are food-friendly – something Chef Peter insisted on as he believes that some wines are too difficult to match successfully 'You don’t want something overly complex or that has too much tannin. You need good acidity and good fruit.'

The range now consists of 5 wines – two ‘flagship’ ones, a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay and then the fun range made up of how the flavours should strike you – Shazam!, Kaboom! and Kerpow! According to Peter, they’re all great with food but he does confess to a soft spot for the Yardstick Chardonnay 2011 matched to some miso-cured salmon (“the miso draws out the nuttiness in the wine”) with a fragrant Asian dressing. Sounds yum!

So is Peter leaving food for wine?

Well, not quite yet but Adam’s move to Mulderbosch, now owned by American hospitality company, Terroir Capital, has brought investment into the fledgling company along with opening up a lot of new American markets for the wines. But foodies needn’t panic as Peter says he loves cooking too much to leave it behind!

The bad news is that the last vintage of their wines is completely sold out, but if you want to be amongst the first to try the new vintages you should get a ticket to the Big Bottle Festival on 24th/25th August at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel.

There are three events over the weekend, all featuring generous pouring from bottles between 1.5l and 15l in size! Peter and Adam will be launching their new vintages at the Festival and Peter will be putting his money where his mouth is and matching some of his delectable food to wines along with other top chefs such as Luke Dale-Roberts, Reuben Riffel and Scott Kirton.


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