After graduating from Stellenbosch University in 1979, Jeff gained international experience in Europe before returning to South Africa in 1981. A further 3 years of local experience gave him the confidence to go at it alone.
In 1983, the Grier family purchased Villiera and Jeff took over the wine making function in 1984. A ten-year royalty agreement with Jean Louis Denois from Champagne ensured regular contact with Europe. Although the focus of Villiera was on Methode Cap Classique in the early years, Jeff recognized the potential for Villiera to excel in other styles.
Each trip to Champagne involved visits to other regions in Europe and the desire for knowledge took him to the New World as well. In 1987, Jeff became a Cape Wine Master.
His research report was “The role of Champagne in the development of sparkling wine produced by the Methode Champenoise around the world”.
He was now sufficiently qualified and experienced enough to tackle a relatively large range of wines on his family Estate. This has led to exciting growth for Villiera and numerous personal achievements for Jeff Grier:
- 1995 – John Platter’s Wine Man of the Year
- 1997 – Diners Club Wine Maker of the Year
- 1999 – winner of WINE Magazine’s Chenin Blanc Challenge
- 1999 – winner of the Paarl Vintners Challenge (best Cape Blend)
- 2000 – Paarl Region’s Wine Personality of the Year
- 2005 – Winner of Calyon Trophy for the best Bordeaux Blend in South Africa