Haute Cabrière’s father-and-son team, Achim and Takuan von Arnim, on the dynamics of working with family, investing in your soil, and more.
What’s it like working with family all the time?
Takuan: Thankfully, it’s not with all the family, or else I would go mad. Too many cooks spoil the broth and all that. The biggest challenge is getting ‘down-time’, because we are always talking about work.
Do you find it easier to respect each other’s opinions and ideas when working together?
Takuan: There is a lot of passion involved in growing wines and sharing them, so sometimes there is a bit of heated excitement. This keeps things alive. But generally, being aware of the complexities of the business makes it a lot easier to understand each other and communicate.
Takuan, what do you hope to bring to Haute Cabrière that sets you apart from your father?
Apart from a few technological advances which I have inspired in the cellar, I would like to create stability and support. The development of Haute Cabrière has been a rather quick journey—if you think that my father has done all this in only 30 years, and with the help of very few people. Our wines are great and so is our passion, so why change a winning recipe? My parents have created a diamond; I am here to help polish it.
Having both travelled and worked in France and Germany, how do you think this has benefited/influenced your style?
Achim: Through the realisation that quality wine is grown, not made. Every famous region has a unique style: Burgundy has Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Rheingau has Riesing, and so on. Those are the cultivars that do best on the soils in those regions. Culture is the ability to realise the full potential of a situation.
How do you ensure that your farm sticks to the belief of wine being grown, not made?
Takuan: By constantly investing in our vineyards and soils. Showing respect through our handling of the wines in our cellars. And embracing each and every vintage with the same amount of passion and excitement. Last year we employed a viticulturist to focus on our vines in a way that ensures that we apply the latest in ‘environmentally caring’ technology and science—be it soil, pest control, caring for our rivers and dams, and so on.
Achim, what has been the proudest moment of watching your son follow in your footsteps?
I can trust that he’s totally committed. He acknowledges there is so much to learn and that he may not always be right—but that the right decision must be made. It is this process that is taking place in him—becoming a leader of our team, as part of the team—that makes me proud.
Which famous duo would you compare yourselves to?
Achim: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards—their music is good, our wine is good.
What do you do when you’re not busy in the cellar?
Achim: I love painting, writing, reading and dreaming.
Takuan: Going for walks with our dog, enjoying a nice glass of wine with some good food, working in the garden, or just taking a break.
Achim has been married to Hildegard for 41 years. They have four children: Takuan 34, Zoe 32, Tanja 30 and Tamo 27. They live on Haute Cabrière amongst the vineyards, close to the cellar.
Takuan is married to Christiane, who supports and believes in him. They have a cool cat called Whisky and a wild and crazy Ridgeback called Talisker. They live in Franschhoek, close to the Estate.