Ryan Puttick, Head Winemaker for Old Road Wine Co., grew up on a crop farm near Hartswater, Northern Cape. Raised just about as far away as possible from the Cape Winelands, it seemed unlikely that he would choose winemaking as a career. Yet, inspiration can strike anywhere, and it was thanks to his father than Ryan’s inner oenophile burgeoned: “Every Sunday lunch, my parents allowed me to smell and taste the wine they were enjoying. My Dad would take the time to explain all the specific nuances of the wine he was drinking, and I was fascinated,” reflects Ryan.
After completing his tertiary studies at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute near Stellenbosch, Ryan expanded his palate knowledge by spending two harvest seasons in Germany. During this time, he honed his appreciation for the industry, where “everybody knows just about everybody” and developed a passion for unconventional grape varieties, blending and site-specific wines.
His enthusiasm for the industry has also prepared him to face any difficulties with guts and guile. “I am someone who thrives on challenges. As a problem solver, I assess the situation, my options, optimal outcome and then act accordingly,” he explains.
His deep-seated passion for working with old vines and in tandem with nature has steadily infiltrated his artisanal winemaking approach. “My philosophy is to respect the fruit that the vineyard has given you, with minimal intervention.” By respecting each vineyard as a unique terroir, Ryan and his winemaking team work diligently to ensure that the wine and brand philosophy is synchronized, reflecting the terroir from where the grapes are sourced - particularly in the case of the prized Single Vineyard wines.
For Ryan, it’s a delicate interplay between nature and nurture, resulting in wines that are made with individual batches of premium fruit that offer the fullest expression of their origin. “It’s really exciting to be part of Old Road Wine Co., as the goal is that the terroir must speak for itself – the ultimate goal for any winemaker,” he ends.