Winemaker | Wine producer
In the industry since 2011
Featured in Winemag’s Top Ten Sauvignon Blanc/Blend Report
The background to Wade Sander’s early years was green. Although he was raised in Johannesburg, his grandparents maintained a smallholding in KwaZulu-Natal. His older brother, Brett, had also taken an interest in agriculture: permaculture and hydroponics. Wade became increasingly drawn to ideas around sustainability, food security, and organic farming.
So, by the time he had finished matric in 2010, his career path was clear. He packed his bags for Cape Town – and the Elsenburg Agricultural College – to complete a degree in viticulture and oenology. He found himself on a working farm, doing an informal crash course in Afrikaans. ‘I don’t think I knew exactly what I was getting into.’ But Wade is invariably circumspect about the challenges that life presents. He sees them as necessary, even useful.
After graduating, he enrolled in the Cape Winemaker’s Guild Protégé programme. There, he interned at several estates, including Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines. He also did his share of harvests abroad, including a large winery in California’s Edna Valley. But it was in France that he found his soulmates, at Domaine de Roche Neuves in the Loire. They were pursuing a biodynamic model. ‘And they were making fantastic wines.’ Wade absorbed the culture, appreciated the food, and fell in love with the place. ‘It wasn’t about purely output and income… it was a work of passion.’
At the end of his internship, he joined Mullineux & Leeu as an associate winemaker position. He spent six good years with them, taking on as much responsibility as they’d give him. In 2019, Wade travelled to France again, this time to the ancient village of Jura. He harvested at Domaine de la Tournelle and, at the end of his stint, winemaker Pascal Clairet gave him some advice: ‘It’s time to get on the train.’
By that he meant commit to the wine journey, which is something Wade and his family had already begun preparing for. They had purchased Cold Mountain farm (in Sondagskloof in the Overberg), with an organic vision in mind. It was time for Wade to ‘kick on’. The result is Brunia wines. Named for the rare fynbos found on the farm, it is produced according to the dictates of soil and climate. The Sander train is destined for great things, but in many ways it feels as if Wade has reached his destination.