Wine Analytical Services
Wine analyst | Laboratory supervisor
In the industry since 1998
A consistently A-rated lab
Wine analyst Merecia Smith runs her own laboratory. She is clear-sighted about her strengths (accuracy, determination, positivity), as well as her weaknesses (administration!). And she has assembled around her a complementary team that diligently works its way through up to 4000 analyses a month, at peak times.
Merecia’s journey is testament to both her persistence and her passion. ‘I love what I do.’ In 1998, she started out as a general worker at Spier, before moving to what was then Winecorp as a lab assistant. She then trekked to Paarl and Winepack. There, she continued her training in both wine and microbiology, through the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In 2008, Merecia closed the loop – when the Spier cellar master wooed her back ‘home’. ‘This is a beautiful place to work.’ She became laboratory supervisor, and then partnered with Spier to establish her business in 2017. Her team is based on the estate, and she services surrounding vineyards. It is busy work: sampling, checking, and resampling.
Merecia’s primary responsibility is to deliver data to winemakers on their developing vintages. But she also ensures that bottles are assessed before export. That means maintaining international standards, and regularly conforming to national audits. ‘We get As!’ Merecia keeps an eye on evolving technology, and has plans to purchase the necessary equipment to make her lab even more efficient. ‘We always enjoy the chance to prove ourselves.’
Although she trots out the dates and the business milestones fairly briskly, it’s clear she has overcome many obstacles in her time. She puts this down to having the right people in her life; those she can learn from. ‘They give me the courage to push through.’
More recently – and perhaps unexpectedly – Merecia’s lab has turned into a family business. Her husband of nearly thirty years was a partner from the start, and her son, Rudi, is also working with her. ‘I am eager to train others.’ He seems to share his mother’s affinity for the process.
It may seem strange, but Merecia really only started fully exploring wine for pleasure in the last decade. ‘We couldn’t afford the good stuff before!’ These days, she regularly tours Stellenbosch with her husband – ‘sampling’ (and resampling!) in elegant glassware rather than test tubes. ‘It’s a good life.’
Skills and services: chemical analysis
Volatile acidity (VA) | Balling PH (Total acidity) | Specific gravity (SG) | Residual sugars | Pynometer alcolyzer and density meter | Free and total sulphur