John Loubser started his career as a wine maker at Moreson Vineyards in Franschhoek, South Africa in 1996 and went on to progress his occupation at De Wetshof Estate and Graham Beck Wines , both in Robertson. In 2001 John started to work at Steenberg Vineyards as a Cellar Master and after six years in the role, John impressed his colleagues and was promoted to General Manager of the vineyards. Having inherited his father’s excellent hotelier genes, John received a further promotion in 2012 to General Manager of Steenberg Vineyards and Hospitality, which he remains today.
John is a huge oenophile and enjoys nothing more than discovering and drinking new and interesting wines. He is a self-confessed foodie and enjoys cooking and eating out with family and friends. Carrier caught up with John to find out more about Steenberg and what makes him tick.
Describe Steenberg in three words:
Feast for (the) senses!
Why does Steenberg remain so popular? What makes it so special?
Steenberg has a fantastic position. It is a wine farm in a city (Cape Town) which is rather unique as it offers all the benefits of a country retreat, but is conveniently close to all the city life attractions. Over and above that, it is 10 minutes away from the sea. Steenberg is so special because it has a wonderful variety of attractions - a five star boutique hotel, two wonderful restaurants both with their own unique appeal, 59 hectares of vineyards with an award winning winery and a contemporary wine tasting emporium. We also have a pristine golf course and a relaxing spa. It is an altogether complete destination.
In your opinion, what has Steenberg achieved over the years and what do you foresee for the future?
Steenberg has managed to be very dynamic and has creatively set many trends, for example in wine styles and packaging, hotel room offerings, styles of cuisine and food experiences and the different ways of appreciating wine.
Which suite/room at the hotel is your favourite and why?
The Khoi-Khoi Heritage Suite - it has a clever fusion of interior design and offers a tranquil escape from the fast tempo of modern day living.
What is your favourite element of Steenberg? If you had to keep just one of Steenberg's facilities, which would it be and why?
The soul of Steenberg is the farm and the vineyards which were the reason for its establishment. Along with this I would have to include the manor house which is beautifully preserved in its original state dating all of the way back to 1682.
What are some of your top must-sees or dos whilst staying at Steenberg?
My top six recommendations are:
What has been your moat memorable experience during your career with Steenberg?
Hosting our then president, Thabo Mbeki, to a formal dinner in our barrel cellar.
Tell us a secret about Steenberg or something you wouldn't know about the hotel unless you have been:
The old manor house is alleged to house a ghost - in spite of being noisy she seems to be friendly!
What has been the most extravagant request from a guest?
One of our valued international guests had an 8 page document with special requests and requirements. I can happily say that we met all his requests.
Describe yourself in three words:
Adventurous, inquisitive, chilled.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Who inspired you?
Originally I wanted to be an architect - I love being creative. I'm inspired more by what's around me and by my senses than by individuals (smells, tastes, sounds and vistas).
Tell us a little about your career and how you came to be General Manager at Steenberg:
I studied Viticulture and Oenology and became the Cellar Master of Steenberg Vineyards in 2001. I took over as the General Manager of Steenberg Vineyards in 2007 and in 2012 we made a strategic decision to unite the Steenberg hospitality and wine departments and form one entity under central management, it was then when I was given the honour of becoming overall General Manager.
Tell us a secret about you:
I want to take a sabbatical and go and make beer in a Belgium monastery!
What do youlike to do when you're not at work?
I love spending time at the sea. I enjoy body boarding and surf-skiing with my kids. I also like to go into the desert to enjoy the solitude and the open spaces - it rejuvenates me.