Grape Masters S01E01 – Vilafonté, South Africa

Grape Masters S01E01 – Vilafonté, South Africa.

In our premiere episode of Grape Masters, we journey to South Africa to meet with Mike Ratcliffe, founder and owner of Vilafonté, located in the famous Stellenbosch wine region. Vilafonté is celebrated for its wonderful Bordeaux blends, including their three signature wines: Seriously Old Dirt, Series M, and Series C.

Join us as Mike shares insights on the origins and triumphs of Vilafonté, and discusses the ascent of South African fine wines on the international stage. 

Vilafonté: A Standard Bearer of South African Wine Excellence

Vilafonté stands as a luminary in South Africa’s wine landscape, renowned for its superb wines and as a bastion of innovation and tradition. Established through the visionary collaboration of Mike Ratcliffe and American wine experts Dr. Zelma Long and Dr. Phil Freese, Vilafonté marries diverse winemaking philosophies from its founding members. Named after the ancient “Vilafontes” soil that dominates its estate, Vilafonté deeply connects to its terroir, influencing every facet of their production to ensure each varietal—Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec—expresses unique, exceptional characteristics.

Under the stewardship of General Manager Sophia Hawkins and her team, Vilafonté is dedicated to producing limited quantities of exquisite red wine blends, aspiring to the highest global standards. With a long-term vision that includes sustainability and innovation, Vilafonté not only leads but also inspires the global wine community, continuing to shape the perception of South African wines as world-class.

For an in-depth exploration of Vilafonté and to read comprehensive reviews of Mike’s wines visit their profile on our website.

Mike Ratcliffe: A Legacy of Wine

Mike Ratcliffe grew up in the vineyards of Warwick, a historic winery established by his parents in the heart of Stellenbosch. Under the tutelage of his mother, a chemist from Canada who turned her analytical acumen to winemaking, and his father, who purchased the Warwick Estate in 1964, Mike developed a deep connection with the craft from a young age. Taking over as managing director in his early twenties, Mike steered Warwick to great success before venturing to start Vilafonté in 1997, alongside Dr. Zelma Long and Dr. Phil Freese.

Grape Masters, Iconic Wineries of the World

Grape Masters, by Dutch Wine Apprentice, brings you exclusive interviews with leading wineries and iconic winemakers. Through 1:1 interviews we learn what is the key behind their success, share behind the scene insights and personal stories. Join us and learn from the best of the best, while enjoying a glass of wine!

You can read more about Grape Masters here.

Tune in now!

To listen to the first episode of our podcast head over to your favorite Podcast player. You can find us on: SpotifyApple PodcastAmazon MusicGoogle Podcast or by adding our RSS feed. Be sure to subscribe to, and like, our podcast and stay tuned for further announcements.

Be sure to subscribe to, and like, our podcast as its online and stay tuned for further announcements.


We would like to Vinites, Vilafonté’s proud importer in the Netherlands, for their collaboration on this Podcast, and of course our guest: Mike Ratcliffe from Vilafonté