Mike Ratcliffe, Zelma Long
& Dr Phil Freese

— visionaries —
Mike
Zelma
Phil

Co-founder and Managing Partner of the joint US/South African venture Vilafonté since 2001. Mike has been nominated for the Wine Star Award for Global Innovator of the Year in 2015 and then again in 2017. Mike is founding Trustee of the Cape Wine Auction and has held numerous leadership positions. He graduated in the first wine marketing class at Adelaide University and is an international wine judge, public speaker, industry commentator, social media maven and marketing trendsetter.

Zelma, Winemaking Partner at Vilafonté, is one of America’s best known winemakers with an enviable international reputation, which includes the prestigious James Beard Award for Wine Professional of the Year. One of the first women to study oenology and viticulture at U.C. Davis; she began her winemaking career at Robert Mondavi Winery, rapidly working into the Chief Winemaker position. Shortly after, she was recruited by Simi winery, later acquired by Moët Hennessey as CEO and head winemaker. Zelma oversees the winemaking and style development of the Vilafonté wines and has been described as ‘fanatical’ in her pursuit of quality.

Phil is Winegrowing Partner and creator of the Vilafonté vineyards which he calls “different by design”. He spent 13 years as Robert Mondavi’s Vice-president of Wine Growing and was instrumental in the design of the first Opus One vineyards. Phil initiated the remote sensing project with NASA that has spawned a new wave of tools for viticulture analysis and quality enhancement. After establishing his own Viticultural Practice, he has been consulting for some of the greatest Californian estates: Cakebread, Far Niente, Seghesio and Robert Mondavi’s Byron Winery and locally Warwick, Rustenburg, Thelema and De Wetshof.

Mike Ratcliffe, Zelma Long & Dr Phil Freese

— visionaries —
Mike
Zelma
Phil

Co-founder and Managing Partner of the joint US/South African venture Vilafonté since 2001. Mike has been nominated for the Wine Star Award for Global Innovator of the Year in 2015 and then again in 2017. Mike is founding Trustee of the Cape Wine Auction and has held numerous leadership positions. He graduated in the first wine marketing class at Adelaide University and is an international wine judge, public speaker, industry commentator, social media maven and marketing trendsetter.

Zelma is Winemaking Partner at Vilafonté. Zelma is one of America’s best known winemakers with an enviable international reputation, which includes the prestigious James Beard Award for Wine Professional of the Year. One of the first women to study oenology and viticulture at U.C. Davis; she began her winemaking career at Robert Mondavi Winery, rapidly working into the Chief Winemaker position. Shortly after, she was recruited by Simi winery, later acquired by Moët Hennessey as CEO and head winemaker. Zelma oversees the winemaking and style development of the Vilafonté wines and has been described as ‘fanatical’ in her pursuit of quality.

Phil is Winegrowing Partner and creator of the Vilafonté vineyards which he calls “different by design”. He spent 13 years as Robert Mondavi’s Vice-president of Wine Growing and was instrumental in the design of the first Opus One vineyards. Phil initiated the remote sensing project with NASA that has spawned a new wave of tools for viticulture analysis and quality enhancement. After establishing his own Viticultural Practice, he has been consulting for some of the greatest Californian estates: Cakebread, Far Niente, Seghesio and Robert Mondavi’s Byron Winery and locally Warwick, Rustenburg, Thelema and De Wetshof.