After studying engineering Pieter Raeymaekers went to New Zealand to work with winemakers because he did not want to start work immediately. That was in 2005 and the experience had a huge impact on his professional and personal life.
Today, 13 years later, he is fulfilling his dream as he is the winemaker of a new winery Valke Vleug that is set to fully open next year in time for the 2019 vintage.
On land that was used to grow asparagus, Pieter, Johan Stoffels and Jan Van Lancker are betting that they can produce quality Belgian wine at their Valke Vleug estate in Liezele near Puurs in Little Brabant.
The three have joined forces to pursue their passion for wine and introduce a new concept that aims to not only produce around 23,000 bottles of Belgian wine but also to introduce wines from cold climates.
With the motto Cool Things Happen on the Edge they say that this is the first such project in Belgium since they will not only produce wine but also sell wines from different ‘cold climate’ areas where winemaking is not necessarily easy.
Pieter said that after having worked in many companies including Living tomorrow as a consultant on innovation and strategy this is a dream come true for him and he gets the possibility to apply what he has learnt. “When you make wine you need to know chemistry, biology, farming and being a business man. It is very versatile and therefore very interesting,” he said.
This summer they have harvested the first grapes and will make the first wines with grapes from 15,000 vines of Auxerrois, a type of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The aim is to mainly produce white and sparkling wines though it is not excluded that they will also make a red Pinot Noir given the first results from five rows of vines that were planted in 2016.
The chairman of the company, Jan Van Lancker told Food and Wine Gazette that for them, the fun factor is just as important as the wine and that is the reason why they will open the vineyard for events, visits and even picnics. Moreover, they intend to organise bootcamps that will pair wine with sport. “Today’s wine lovers are different to the wine lovers of the past. We will organise the first bootcamp in Lanzarote in May 2019 and the intention is to organise this twice a year. There will be the possibility for people to take part in wine sessions and also have the time to practice a sport of their choice,” he said.
The former lawyer turned to the real estate business when he was 38 but now, past the age of 50, he says what’s more important is to do the things he enjoys most.
The winemaker Pieter Raeymaekers told Food and Wine Gazette that the first results of the Pinot Noir made from the first five rows of vines that were planted in 2016 have produced results that were better than expected.
Few people are aware that Belgium was a wine producing country over 200 years ago. Johan Stoffels told Food and Wine Gazette that a volcano eruption in Indonesia in 1815 resulted in the death of all vineyards in Belgium a year after. “The people were hungry and did not replant vines because they planted potatoes to be able to eat instead. The wine tradition was lost and it has only started to be revived around 30 years ago.”
Today there are more than 100 wineries in Belgium making top quality wine but there is no project similar to what Vinetiq has created he said.
“We are of the view that wines that come from areas where the climate is cooler because of the altitude or because they are further north or further from the equator are more likely to be excellent if they are in the hands of exceptional winemakers. Fresh climate wines are also popular with chefs and sommeliers because they have a refined character and often tend to have lower alcohol making them perfect for pairing with food.
The winery has been designed by one of Belgium top architects Vincent Van Duysen.
To make the wines, the winery will use indigenous yeast because they want to make authentic wines. Once the vines are older they will use the burgundy method of bâtonnage or the periodic stirring of these lees which will give the wines secondary and tertiary aromas.
Vinetiq offers a range of fresh climate wines from around the world: from England, the Loire, Burgundy, Champagne to Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and Sicily as well as Chile, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. The recently launched online store currently has 25 wineries and offers around 150 wines. That number is set to increase in the weeks and months to come.
The company will present these wines to the general public for the first time from 9-11 November at the vineyard. More information can be found on the website.