A while back I wrote a post on the amazing people who have mentored and taught me many valuable things in life. This got me thinking about other people who have not necessarily mentored or taught me but have nonetheless inspired me. One person really stood out among many others. I met him many years ago as he was setting off on his career as an avant-garde winemaker.
He is non other than Pieter Walser from Blankbottle. For those of you who do not know Pieter, there is no label that can describe him or what he does. What I will attempt to do is paint a colourful picture in words so that you can understand why he has inspired me.
Perhaps I should start with the product he creates because into it he poures his creativity, artistry and quality. In every bottle from Blankbottle you will find something surprising, unique, rich and captivating because that is what Pieter is. He has consistently challenged the industry norm by looking beyond the accepted pomp and puffery that usually makes up the wine industry. What he has done with Blankbottle is create a wine that tells the truth.
Pieter is a magnet for the unique – from proposing to his wife with the ring at the end of a fishing line (yes, risky!) to making champagne in the cold room among the product of an abattoir (…which didn’t end all that well – think champagne bath when the the temperature gets too high). He has traveled the world and has gone from garbage collector to winemaker in an adventurous and bold way. He has even been suspected of burying his own kid on a building site. …Not kidding!
Oh! And did I mention that Jamie Oliver thinks his wine is “…bloody bonkers, we had a crazy assed white label South African super pro home brew wine which blew my mind. The dude is clearly equal genius and nutter! It didn’t even say which grapes was in the bottle, but so good ….”
Pieter does South Africa proud, doesn’t stand back , remains humble and stays true to values that bring life to business and his family. He is a leader but he is also a servant. He does not shy away from walking in front but does so in order to serve clients, family and everyone he meets. In other words he really knows how to add value.
His authentic approach to life is seen in every bottle that he sells because it is not about a fancy label that competes for status but about the journey, the joy, the love and the beauty of what is hidden inside. As an entrepreneur, husband, father, surfer, winemaker etc. he has doubted, persevered, adapted, invented, innovated and just keeps going. Whenever I read his updates I am surprised by what he delivers. It seems like he is single-handedly reinventing the wine industry… And that is inspiration because it makes me search for what is uniquely me!
Thank you Pieter for showing us how to continuously look for life and not settle for surviving!