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My Story

I grew up in the world-renowned surfing paradise of Jeffreys Bay, a coastal town situated in the beautiful Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

From a young age I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty of nature and all its complexities, and this led me to studying Forestry at the Saasveld College in George. It was here where I became intrigued by winemaking through my roommate’s family’s involvement in the industry. After I completed my studies, I came to the realisation that a full time career on a forest plantation was not exactly what I wanted to do.

An extended six-month harvest stint at Slanghoek Cellar in Rawsonville was followed by another six-month tenure at the famous Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate in California in the USA, and needless to say, I was hooked!

Upon my return to South Africa, I enrolled for my winemaking studies at the Elsenburg College. It was during this period, while working a harvest at the Koelenhof Cellar outside Stellenbosch, where I met my current day mentor, Beyers Truter.

Known as the “Pinotage King” of South Africa, he played a profound role in evoking a deep love and understanding of the Pinotage grape varietal within me.

About Francois van Niekerk
Francois van Niekerk, best South African Pinotage, Pinotage, premium red wine, ABSA Top 10 Pinotage

My Ethos

I’m a firm believer that my forestry background helped me tremendously with my winemaking skills, as both fields focus on the relationship between plant, soil and the sun for optimal production.

Nature has always been at the centre of my life’s decisions, and is the ultimate guide when it comes to viticulture – knowing which cultivars suit which slopes, soil and altitudes best.

My winemaking ethos is based on three pillars:

  • Creativity
  • Science
  • Passion


Francois van Niekerk Pinotage

Francois Van Niekerk Pinotage

“Pinotage gives the winemaker a small window of opportunity to transform good quality wine into exceptional wine, but when the stars align, you get a stellar result”
My dream of crafting my own wine, made from South Africa’s signature grape variety, became a reality in 2019 when the directors of Wellington Wines gave me the green light to produce a limited quantity under my own label.



High Resolution Pack Shot


Fact Sheet - Pinotage 2021


Fact Sheet - Pinotage 2020


Fact Sheet - Pinotage 2019

Abundance written in the soil

The grapes are sourced from two very special, but distinctly different vineyards sites – 50% from the Agter Paarl region and 50% from Wellington. Each of these dryland parcels have their roots in heavily textured shale soils, and are vinified seperately before being blended together.

Both vineyards produce a low yield of 6 to 7 tons per hectare. The perfectly formed bush vines allow optimal sunlight on the grape cluster, resulting in even ripening. The Paarl component produces a big, heavily structured wine, while the Wellington portion lends a soft and rounded red fruit tone to the final blend.

Nurturing nature’s secrets

The wine is made in open fermenters, with regular punch-downs of the cap every two hours – this helps to maintain a homogenous temperature of +- 27 degrees Celsius during fermentation, and avoids the extraction of unwanted, harsh phenolics at higher temperatures. Time on the skins is short – 5 to 7 days, depending on the vintage.

After fermentation, the wine is transferred into 225L French oak barrels made from carefully selected wood from the Troncais forest. Malolactic fermentation takes place in a combination of 70% new and 30% second fill barrels. This combination of new and used oak ensures sufficient aroma complexity and tannin extraction, without overpowering the varietal- and terroir characteristics of the wine. The wine is matured in these same barrels for a period of 24 months.

Awards & Ratings

Francois van Niekerk Pinotage 2021

Platter’s Guide 2024 – 5* (97 points) “The pinotage whisperer coaxes another stellar performance from his vines – sleek, harmonious, with a polished tannin structure & 2 years 70% new oak supporting unfolding layers of flavour: plums, hedgerow fruit, scrub, spice & whiff of sweet cigar. Will age beautifully, minimum 10 years, especially in magnum.” – Winnie Bowman, Platter Taster

Veritas Wine Awards 2023 – Double Gold

ABSA Top 10 Pinotage 2023 – Top 10 Winner

Tim Atkin MW SA Report 2023 – 94 points “Francois van Niekerk only makes one red, but what a wine it is. Combining grapes from a pair of old-vine parcels in Agter Paarl and Wellington, it’s a scented, effortlessly concentrated, well-balanced Pinotage with stylish 70% new oak, detailed, layered tannins, plum, liquorice and blackberry flavours and the concentration to age. 2024-30”

Francois van Niekerk Pinotage 2020

Platter’s Guide 2023 – 5* (95 points)Maintains exceptional standard & restrainedly rich styling in 2020 . Complex, layered, with bramble, ripe plum & whiff of smoky oak, all in perfect balance & set for fine development over 10+ years. 2 years in 70% new barrique. Just 670 cases & some magnums this harvest.” – Winnie Bowman, Platter Taster

Raymond Noppé (Cape Wine Master) – 95 points

Tim Atkin MW SA Report 2022 – 94 pointsThe talented Francois van Niekerk is the CEO of Wellington Wines, but also makes a little Pinotage under his own label. Combining grapes from Wellington and Agter Paarl (hence the Coastal label), this is a very elegant, considered iteration of the variety, with beautifully integrated 70% new wood, velvety tannins and black cherry and wild strawberry fruit.
Drink from 2023-28.”

Concours Mondial Bruxelles 2022 – Gold Medal

Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge 2022 – 93 points

Veritas 2022 – Silver Outstanding

Francois van Niekerk Pinotage 2019

Platter’s Guide 2022 – 5*

Veritas Awards 2021 – Gold Medal

ABSA Top 10 Pinotage 2021 – Top 10 Winner

Decanter World Wine Awards 2021 – 96 points / Gold Medal

Wine Advocate (Anthony Mueller) – 92+ points “Bold, dark and sweet-fruited, the 2019 Pinotage offers gobs of sweet oak essence from spending two years in 70% new French oak. The nose is juicy and generous, with aromas of black raspberry liqueur, spiced plum compote and blackberry jus. Full-bodied, layered and spicy on the palate, the wine has a luscious mouthfeel and unfolds with complexity, revealing layers of oak, juicy blackberries and exotic spice followed by lively acidity and buttressing tannins. The wine continues to evolve over the long-lingering finish. It’s a generously structured Pinotage with robust, juicy flavours and pronounced oak-inflected elements. It’s quite impressive. Give this a try.” / Prescient Pinotage Report 2021 –  Top 10 / 92 points / Discovery of the Report (which serves to recognise previously unsung wines)

National Wine Challenge 2021 – Top 100 SA Wines / Double Platinum

Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge 2021 – 93 points

Raymond Noppé CWM – 96 points