Longtime Mulderbosch winemaker and co-owner Mike Dobrovic is leaving the winery. During his tenure, Dobrovic oversaw nearly a generation’s worth of vintages at Mulderbosch, steering the winery to the forefront of the South African industry. For many American consumers, Mulderbosch is arguably the most recognizable winery from this still-emerging wine region.
“It’s a hard decision after 19 years, but the farm is big and getting bigger. I left Simonsig years ago because it was a big place,” said Dobrovic when reached by phone today, referring to his employer in the early 1980s, prior to Mulderbosch. “The success is beyond me at this point. It takes too much time away from family and other things.”
Dobrovic, 53, founded Mulderbosch in 1989 with partner Larry Jacobs, converting a run-down fruit farm into one of Stellenbosch’s premier vineyards.
“I remember the pile of broken bottles we had to clear,” said Dobrovic, during an interview in 2006. “An old drunk lived in the house on the property, and he used to just toss his empty bottles out the window. It was quite a mess when we found the place.”
Dobrovic eventually grew the winery to its present-day 45,000-case level, shipping 40 percent of its wares to the U.S. market, where it established an enviable track record among South African producers, primarily with its rapier-like Sauvignon Blancs. Mulderbosch also produces Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and a Cabernet-based blend called Faithful Hound.
Dobrovic now heads to oversee production at two small, relatively new operations, Havana Hills and Virgin Earth, neither of which currently has distribution in the US market. Located in the cool, coastal Philadelphia ward, Havana Hills totals approximately 153 acres of vines, while Virgin Earth totals 62 acres and is located in the Langeberg-Garcia area of the warm, inland Klein Karoo region. Both farms are owned by Kobus du Plessis.
“There’s lots of Sauvignon Blanc on both farms, perfectly planted and on really good soil,” says Dobrovic. “But there’s also Viognier, Cab, Merlot, Shiraz and lots of other interesting things, too.”
In addition to the new wineries, Dobrovic will continue with his own boutique label Sanctum, which he started in 2002. A replacement at Mulderbosch has not yet been named.
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