FEATURE | Lukas van Loggerenberg: Story Wine

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Lukas and Roxanne Van Loggerenberg at their home in Stellenbosch.
Lukas and Roxanne Van Loggerenberg at their home in Stellenbosch.
Daléne Fourie
  • Meet Lukas van Loggerenberg and his wife Roxanne. 
  • They make internationally acclaimed wines from unique parcels of vines in Stellenbosch and the Swartland. 
  • Each wine’s title, story, provenance, and style comes from a hard-won lesson or event in Lukas’s life, and a South African wine worth having.

"The more experience you have, the easier it is to make difficult decisions." - Lukas Van Loggerenberg.

I got lost on the way to Lukas and Roxanne's house in Stellenbosch. It's set on a small holding. They'd been living in a two-bedroom apartment on Danie Carinus's (of Bluegum Grove and Polkadraai) land until recently and built this house for their growing family and to host long braais and kuiers on the stoep.

On a clear day, you can see Table Mountain. I think finding the place is like an induction of sorts. Lukas says if you've been to their house once, you're always welcome here. 

The view from their stoep in Stellenbosch.
The view from their stoep in Stellenbosch.
Supplied Daléne Fourie

A tasting

Lukas and Roxanne are gracious hosts, unassuming. Their young Boerboel Bacchus runs around the house with the children in tow (two under five). I had e-mailed Lukas a few days ago, thinking he wouldn't respond because of harvest, but he called right after and invited me to come and taste.

When he does a tasting, he invites a few people because when you make as few precious wines as he does, you need to make them count. Though I have a feeling Lukas does not let the grass grow under his feet, he moved to America within 23 days of sending his first enquiry e-mail. 

The cradle of humankind

Lukas was born in Worcester. I swear Worcester is the cradle of humankind at the rate I'm meeting people from Worcester.

Roxanne says she's from the other cradle, Pietersburg (now Polokwane). Lukas grew up in Rawsonville, in the heart of the Breedekloof. Thus, no great stretch that Lukas ended up at Daschbosch and met Oom Gerrit Van Zyl there (now managing director of Botha Kelders). He says when Oom Gerrit was angry, they'd say: "Here comes the tall man with the skinny calves." *It's funny because Oom Gerrit is short, and he makes a lot of jokes about his height at his own expense, so ok to tell you. 

Doing odd things

Lukas's studies were always guided by having to make money, which means he's done many odd things in his time, though I think odd is a requirement for being truly great. He has sold things in Botswana (he worked for a company that sells household items to families living in the mining towns), and sold second-hand cars - he says he thinks his EQ took a massive upward turn because of these jobs.

He initially wanted to study something that would make money, like a doctor or a lawyer, but he couldn't get a bursary to fund it. It was while working at Daschbosch as a cellar hand, and meeting a few Elsenburg graduates doing harvest there, and accompanying them to Stellenbosch for jool, when that was still a thing, that he realised he was going to make wine. Oom Willie van Zyl made it happen and got him a rugby bursary to attend Elsenburg. 

The Lukas Van Loggerenberg Break a Leg Rosé 2022.
The Lukas Van Loggerenberg Break a Leg Rosé 2022.
Supplied Daléne Fourie

What's a patella?

Which brings us to the Break A Leg range of wines, the put-your-children-through-school wines, that Lukas makes in his trademark, honest style (he calls it lazy winemaking, though I don't think there's anything lazy about it). Each of his wines represents a chapter in his life, and thus this story has to be dictated by the wine.

The Break a Leg range is his entry-level wine that started with his Blanc de Noir Cinsault. For the uninitiated, Blanc de Noir is code for Rosé. Probably the only winemaker who used old vine grapes to make Rosé. Break a Leg because Lukas had three prior ACLs on his right knee from playing rugby, and then in 2015 tore his patella tendon in his left knee playing action soccer. At the end of the year, literally New Year's Eve, he further exacerbated a hairline fracture they didn't know about, which broke his kneecap in half (the details are gruesome, and I fast-forward all the Grey's Anatomy operation scenes).

It was at the beginning of his first year on his own (2016), and he couldn't afford to miss the harvest, so he hid the injury from Roxanne. He says he started wearing long trousers for harvest, but I don't think much gets past Roxanne. When she found out, she sent him directly to the specialist, who apparently had a full-on screaming fit in front of the other patients at him. And if you look at the scar, you can just imagine.

He had two barrels left, and he decided to make the Rosé from some of the Cinsault destined for his Geronimo and was going to bottle it and sell it unlabelled at R50 a bottle to help pay for some of his medical bills. But his UK agent Richard Kelley MW tasted it on his first trip to meet Lukas and offered to take half if he bottled and labelled it.

Rosé culture

The 2016 Blanc de Noir went on to be nominated for the first 5 Platter's stars for a Rosé. And while the perception of rosé used to be: Rosé is cheap, Rosé is sweet, and Rosé is a by-product of winemaking. South African Rosé has done a lot to challenge its premium French counterparts in recent years.

Lukas says that despite the diversity of South African wine, we have a thriving Rosé culture, which I can most certainly attest to, based on the ladies (and gentlemen) of the Cape.

Lukas says you drink a bottle of Rosé while deciding what you're actually going to drink - which is a fair assessment. While some of his most attainable wines, price-wise (currently priced at R160 per bottle), the Break a Leg Blanc de Noir is one of his most difficult wines to make.

They pick the vineyard three times, the first for acidity and freshness, the second for body, and the third for colour - the colour of a Rosé will make or break it. Too pink, and it comes across as over-extracted and almost vulgar to some. They went from 400btls to 12 000btls since 2016, and the range now includes a Chardonnay and Merlot. The kids are going to school, and the wine is good. 

Lukas Van Loggerenberg Kamaraderie Chenin Blanc 20
Lukas Van Loggerenberg Kamaraderie Chenin Blanc 2021
Supplied Daléne Fourie


But you can't talk about Break a Leg without talking about Kamaraderie.

Camaraderie is a feeling of trust and friendship among people who have known each other for a long time or have gone through some kind of experience together. In this case, it's making wine in South Africa, and Lukas, like most of his peers, relies on a strong network of farmers, farm workers, and wine traders to thrive.

There are instances of camaraderie throughout his career. From Eben Sadie giving him his first ten barrels to start, Chris Alheit sending him three wine importers to meet, the companionship of his Boerboels, or his roommate at Elsenburg, Reenen Borman of Boschkloof, and house friend, Danie Carinus's support throughout his career.

Or even the ten farmers he works with to make his ten wines, his contract with each of them nothing more than a handshake and proof that a man's word can still be his honour. Kamaraderie is also a Chenin Blanc from an old vine vineyard in the Paardeberg, planted in 1980. He says this is a Chenin for Chenin connoisseurs, an old vine Chenin from the Swartland. With a particular fennel bulb and liquorice character to it.

Christian Eedes rated the inaugural release 96 points, and since then, it has only gained in stature. 

The Lukas van Loggerenberg Trust Your Gut Chenin B
The Lukas van Loggerenberg Trust Your Gut Chenin Blanc 2021.
Supplied Daléne Fourie


He says his Trust Your Gut Chenin is more like a gateway drug to Chenin, rich like a Chardonnay but fresh like Sauvignon Blanc, and yet still, Chenin. This wine is made from the unicorn site of Joshua Joubert's Karibib Vineyard in the Polkadraai and old vines in the Paardeberg.

You'll hear them whisper about Karibib in Stellenbosch, its granite soils, all South facing slopes, cooler, always a wind blowing, and all the vines are planted on a slope, so the drainage is natural. Though Lukas says he's a big fanboy of Joshua the man too, "he's got the most beautiful blue eyes," he says jokingly.

Together these two Chenins make up the two whites in his Lukas van Loggerenberg range of wines and should get a Chenin novice from one to a hundred in two wines flat.  

Lukas Van Loggerenberg Breton Cabernet Franc 2021
Lukas Van Loggerenberg Breton Cabernet Franc 2021
Supplied Daléne Fourie

Of the reds, there is the Breton Cabernet Franc, a Loire-style Cab Franc from Stellenbosch, the Geronimo Cinsault from Stellenbosch, the Graft Syrah from Karibib (also Stellenbosch), the Lötter Cinsault from the second oldest red grape vineyard in the country (from Franschhoek, a labour of love, not money), and High Hopes, his only blend, a Swartland blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault. 

Lukas Van Loggerenberg Geronimo Cinsault 2021
Lukas Van Loggerenberg Geronimo Cinsault 2021
Supplied Daléne Fourie

The reds

Breton is the French word used in the Loire Valley (Cabernet Franc's birthplace) for Cabernet Franc and is one of the cultivars that led Lukas to start his own brand. There was a moment in the Loire Valley drinking a 1989 and 2005 Cab Franc at Domaine de la Chevallerie.

Lukas says God spoke to him then and told him everything would be okay. Since then, he has made Cabernet Franc in the Loire way, refined, restrained, from Stellenbosch grapes, a feat some thought impossible only a few years back.

That first year the Breton was Tim James' red wine of the year, and the late Steven Spurrier (of the Judgment of Paris) pulled Lukas aside and told him it reminded him of the great Loire wines of the 70s.

He found the vineyard by chance, or Danie Carinus did and had to get a loan from his father-in-law to make the wine. But he had to. The Geronimo Cinsault 2016 made it onto the Decanter top 50 wines of 2017 list, representing the trademark crunchiness of Cinsault and Stellenbosch spice. Because Stellenbosch is colder, the skins of the grapes are thicker and thus have more tannins to add to the resulting flavour profile.

Lukas van Loggerenberg Lötter Cinsault 2021
Lukas van Loggerenberg Lötter Cinsault 2021
Supplied Daléne Fourie

The Lötter Cinsault is from a vineyard planted in 1932. The oldest red vineyard is the Basson Cinsault vineyard near Wellington, which is currently farmed and used by the Mullineuxs.

It tastes like strawberry with black pepper, and he says it reminds him of the purple roses in his grandmother's rose garden.

This is when an old vineyard starts getting special. Though Lukas is quick to say that not all old vines are good vines, they have to be rooted in the right ground to find their true expression.

If you're looking for Syrah, though, the Graft 2021 was awarded 96 points by Neal Martin, and he wrote: "One of the best Syrahs in South Africa." From the Karibib, of course, and I told you about that Granite soil, its signature Van Loggerenberg, fresh and textured, with a palpable tension - Neal predicts you can drink this wine until 2044.

The High Hopes is a Syrah dominant blend on Schist soils (so a total departure from the granite). Martin writes: "There is a slight ferrous element that lends complexity right at the end and on the aftertaste. Superb." I don't know about you, but we South Africans all need a little iron in our diet. 

Lukas Van Loggerenberg Graft Syrah 2021
Lukas Van Loggerenberg Graft Syrah 2021
Supplied Daléne Fourie

More than just the wine...

Lukas van Loggerenberg and his wife Roxanne have chiselled out an existence and a life in our forbidding country.

He still makes wine for Bertie Coetzee of Lowerland in Prieska (don't even get me started) and Danie Carinus, his old friend, to make up for the extra space in the new cellar he's been renting since 2020 in Paarl.

There have been very hard times, two-minute noodles, living in small apartments on friends' land, literal injury, and come to God moments - all things that make it so worth succeeding and possibly even drive you on. His wines, while world-class and top-rated expressions of Stellenbosch and Swartland terroir, are more than just the wine. And now you know it. 

You can purchase his recent releases on Exanimo here. Or sign-up for their wine club directly with Roxanne for all the new limited-release wines here.

Lukas van Loggerenberg
Lukas van Loggerenberg
Supplied Daléne Fourie

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