Vusi Dalicuba

15 November 2023

It is exciting to be part of something big.

To become the best winemaker in South Africa and even the world. That is the ambition of Mvuselelo (Vusi) Dalicuba, Vergenoegd Löw’s winemaker.

Vusi, who joined the Vergenoegd Löw cellar and vineyard team as a 28-year-old in May 2021, says it is very exciting to be growing with the brand and “be part of something big at Vergenoegd Löw”.

But how did he land up at Vergenoegd Löw? Corius Visser, Vergenoegd Löw’s managing director, says he realised the estate needed a dedicated, full-time winemaker again, so he called up his good friend Abrie Beeslaar at Kanonkop. Beeslaar didn’t hesitate in recommending Vusi, at that stage a talented young Masters graduate who had worked a harvest at Kanonkop.

Corius Visser and Vusi Dalicuba

Vusi and Corius Clinch Prestigious Awards at the Stellenbosch Young Wine Show: The KWV Champion Trophy for Fortified Wines and The Allan Bell Trophy Champion for Wooded Cabernet Sauvignon.

Previously, his BTech in Agricultural (Viticulture and Oenology) and a Master’s degree from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, had secured Vusi a scholarship at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in 2016, where he became assistant winemaker. Corius invited Vusi to spend a day at Vergenoegd Löw and “we gelled immediately”, says Corius. “He works hard and his attention to detail is excellent. We make a good team.”

Describing himself as a “chemist rather than an artist” when it comes to winemaking, Vusi says he felt immense pressure during his first harvest at Vergenoegd Löw in 2022. “Harvest is always stressful because you know if you mess up, it’s gone forever. I also knew a lot was expected from me. But Corius told me to relax and take things one step at a time. He has taught me you can always manage what you can measure: First taste, then analyse and never rush into decisions.”

Originally from the Eastern Cape, but raised in Stellenbosch where his father, Msabalala, was a general worker at Distell, Vusi says all the vineyards at the estate were re-established following a detailed analysis of the soil to determine exactly which cultivar would grow best on which part of the farm with its unique microclimate and prevailing winds.

New pruning systems were also introduced, which is difficult to do at already established vineyards. So, different pruning styles are used for each block. To Vusi, the most exciting is to see how the plants are growing and to harvest the crop. “Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to taste the product and to know that what you envisaged during the winemaking process, has come to fruition. We are going to produce incredible quality in the coming years.”

Vusi Consulting in the Vineyards

Vusi and our Assistant Winemaker Tamsin Valentine Excitedly Tending to Young Vines: Eagerly Observing Plant Growth in Anticipation.

His favourite cultivar? “I treat all my wines as my babies. All of them take the same effort and I treat them equal. I would, however, say that our red wines are our champions. Our chardonnay is also special, mainly because of the farm’s complex soils, which are very rich in limestone, especially at the river side.”

The sky is the limit for Vergenoegd Löw’s young winemaker.