Lievland Family Wines
In the industry since 2011
Named by wine.co.za as one of the ‘40 under 40’
‘When I start talking about wine, I don’t stop!’
Mahalia Kotjane’s love affair with wine began in a dark cupboard. A high-school project on microorganisms required her to crush some grapes, store them in a bottle, and then put that away in a cool, dark place. Two days later, she opened her cupboard: the bottle had misted up as the fizzing, bubbling grapes began their fermentation process. ‘I just thought, What is this?’ It was intrigue at first sight.
After graduating from the Elsenburg Agricultural College in 2014, she enrolled in the Cape Winemaker’s Guild Protégé programme. Mahalia interned at Ernie Els, Hartenberg, and Steenberg. She also toured France as part of her studies: Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, the Rhône… Then, after having her twins, she took up her current winemaking position at Lievland in 2019.
For Mahalia, the grape is a ‘product’ like no other: it evolves and changes every day. ‘You can never completely figure it out.’ And for her, there’s a real thrill in its unexpected nature.
Originally from Johannesburg, Mahalia is now based in Kraaifontein – and has made a fizzing, bubbling life for herself. She spends time with her husband and children and friends who have become like family. Those friends describe her as ‘interesting’, which she believes is just another way of saying she’s someone who tells it like it is. Mahalia is often disarmingly honest: frank about the challenges of maintaining family ties, and authentically beaming about her memories of tasting Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley for the first time.
Her future plans involve developing her own brand, so she’s thrilled at the opportunities Cultivate represents. ‘Being around so many good people… it’s kind of heartwarming’. The name of the label has already been chosen: Three Quarters. There are several layers of meaning here, not least of which is the fact that Mahalia is the fourth child of three pregnancies (two of her older siblings are twins). She also believes that people – ‘those who unwrap nature’s gift’ – are the ‘fourth quarter’ of winemaking. The other three are the terroir, the weather, and the creative process itself.
Her launch varietal has also been decided: a Syrah – ‘the first wine I produced as a student’ – made with as little intervention as possible. For now it seems appropriate that, given her romance with the grape, Mahalia has arrived at a farm called Lievland. ‘Yes. It just feels right.’