Just a few short months ago, Dirk and Nika Bester and their three dogs were half a world away in Moorreesburg, South Africa. Dirk was working his grain farm, Nika running her marketing company and the dogs chasing jackals.
Today you will find them in the hills of Beechworth at Amulet Wines – their new winery, their shared dream.
The couple purchased the winery and cidery in September from founders Sue and Eric Thornton and Ben Clifton, and have been hard at it learning the ropes and carefully molding the business to become their own.
They each dreamed of one day owning a winery, Dirk having studied winemaking and Nika having moved across the South Africa to immerse herself in wine tourism.
“Ever since my family came to South Africa they were grain farmers on my father’s side and wine farmers on my mother’s side, I was a fourth-generation grain farmer,” he said.
“I always dreamed of owning a winery and winemaking. I was actually enrolled as a winemaker in Stellenbosch for my first two years and then somebody told me ‘you’ll never grow grapes in the Swartland area, so why not go to agronomy?’ So I changed my course over to agronomy and plant pathology, but I think that was a mistake.”
Nika grew up in North West province but moved to Cape Town immediately after to get into wine tourism.
“Working in tourism and wine was always a dream for me, but it’s a big industry there and a lot of competition so I never really got into it,” she said.
Dirk and Nika married five years ago – Dirk took over the family grain farm and Nika started her marketing company, but despite their success, dreams of lush vineyards were never far away.
“We decided to sell the farm,” Dirk said.
“And we decided that if we’re going to start over we’ll do what we want to do. So I came here in April, started looking around and when I hit the mountains it started to feel like home.
“When you’re farming you can actually choose your office, so choose something you like, something you enjoy being in. I found Amulet.”
Dirk and Nika are looking to reopen cellar door in January, keeping the high quality and integrity of the wine and cider products but making some initial changes, including a name change to ‘Glenbosch.’
Glenbosch is a blend of two very personal words for the Bester family, carefully chosen to fit the beauty and assets of the property. ‘Glen’ meaning valley was a part of the name of the previous Bester family farm. ‘Bosch’ means bush, part of the town where Dirk’s family is from, Stellenbosch. Essentially, Glenbosch means valley and bush.
No doubt Dirk and Nika will continue to make changes as their dreams and business grow.
“Because the property is so well situated we think the sky’s the limit,” Dirk said.
“We’re going to build on what Eric, Sue and Ben have been doing. They laid some very good foundations so we want to go up from there.
“We want to expand it as a wedding venue, then add a distillery as well, so everything except beer!”
Dirk and Nika are set to reopen cellar door this January.