Farewell Pierre: Memoriam to a “Good Enough Farmer” that Could Change Terroir to His Liking
“Entering the winery at Kiepersol, I was dwarfed by a large room with shiny stainless steel tanks defining its perimeter. Across the room, I saw a tall man in a white shirt and jeans, topped with a cowboy hat. His jeans had the fade of outdoors, and his boots had the scruff of a man who walks the land, not an office. I recognized immediately that this was Pierre de Wet.
He leaned against the wall just outside the small winery office/laboratory as we entered. He was preoccupied with a cigarette in one hand and his cell phone in the other. After we assembled in the office and exchanged greetings, it was obvious that he already knew what had become “my quest.”
After our introduction, Pierre said to me without a prompt from me, “Sense of place, terroir, for me it’s very different than the old conception that you read about in all your wine books. With modern-day technology, man can change the terroir. I’m a good enough farmer to change it to get what I want.”
It’s with this mental image and statement of his can-do attitude captured in my book, The Wineslinger Chronicles that I remember Pierre de Wit who recently passed to tend a vast new vineyard of his Father Almighty.
He is remembered also as the man who came to America, ending his journey in Texas, with two young daughters. He considered himself a farmer with vast experiences on the world stage. Once in Texas he fought the scourge of Pierce’s Disease in his vineyard on the outskirts of Tyler with his own head-strong yet self-educated approach that many professionals and academics in Texas thought was mere folly. His vision and hard work eventually brought success and accolades for Kiepersol’s vineyard and estate winery.
Pierre, we will miss you. But, we will be comforted as we savor your daughter Marnelle’s wine made from grapes that you knew would grow here, but only because of your vision, experience and hard work.
Farewell, my friend.