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Waterkloof Wines – giving back to the earth

Waterkloof Wines can officially say they’re the kindest to the earth and their surrounding environment when it comes to farming, and their fascinating biodynamic processes are reason alone to sip on their Cinsault…

If you’ve read this blog of late, I’ve made mention quite a few times about recycling. what I haven’t mentioned is my burgeoning veggie garden and our crusade to keep everything completely organic, even housing a medium-sized worm farm in the scullery to break down our food waste.

What we’re meekly trying to achieve though, is what Waterkloof Wines has been doing on a major scale (and then some), for just over ten years now. Focusing on putting life and energy back into the soil, rather than just depleting it with each grape harvest, and then using pesticides and chemical fertilisers to mimic what nature had intended for its plants.

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Horses are used rather than tractors, it’s less hard on the earth.

Last week, I attended a Waterkloof Wines tasting session with winemaker Nadia Barnard. It’s so inspiring to see her talk about the various initiatives at the farm, and how they’ve created an ecosystem that has rewarded her as a winemaker with better fruit to create even better wines.

As with any system, there are multiple elements that create the greater whole at Waterkloof. Yes, they have earthworms to help with breaking down manure, plant materials gathered from the farm and their food waste, but they also take composting seriously too.

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Healthy, happy earthworms…

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Happy chickens = delicious eggs

One of the most entertaining aspects of the entire process, is the free-range chickens I think. These guys roam the vineyards eating pests and small weeds, keeping the population of vine weevils down and generally being great residents. They also lay their delicious eggs amongst the vines to be collected and used in the kitchen at Waterkloof.

What I found particularly intriguing (bat sadly not something I can’t replicate in my small apartment garden), is how old cow horns are filled with dung, planted in the soil for the bacteria to reproduce, and then the manure is turned into a tea to spray on the vines. This healthy dose of bacteria only aids the vines to grow deeper and healthier in time.

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Prepping the old cow horns with manure.

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Removing the dung from the forns to make a bacteria-filled tea for the vines.

So what does it all mean? It means the harvest of fruit on the farm each year just keeps getting better and better says Barnard, and the investment in biodynamic practice on the farm has been well worth it, but it doesn’t just stop there.

Once harvested, Waterkloof’s grapes are treated gentler than you’d expect. They are pressed in whole bunches, and by foot, meaning less damage and a purer juice. This in turn leads to a longer fermentation process that utilises only the natural sugars and yeasts of the grapes, so there are no added yukky chemicals or additives to flavour or enhance this wine.

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Nadia treading lightly on the grapes.

For me, it means I’m drinking a wine as pure as it’s going to get in South Africa, which I love. Plus of course it doesn’t hurt that their wines are delicate and delicious. The Circle of Life white blend is a perfect table wine for any light meal, while their cinsault is a light summer red wine. For me though, it’s still the Summer of Pink, and their Cape Coral Mourvedre Rose is by far my favourite! Read all about my current desire to drink everything pink here.

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Various processes are done by hand rather by machine for a gentler touch.

Next time you’re out in the Cape Winelands, pay a visit to Waterkloof Wines for a sip and a taste of their incredible dishes. And maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the army of chickens on the weevil hunt!

Waterkloof Wines is located on Sir Lowry’s Pass Road in Somerset West. You can visit their website here, or give them a call on (021) 858 1292.

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The photos in this post were supplied by Waterkloof Wines.

A self-appointed director of happiness amongst my friends and family, I spend my days writing, brainstorming online marketing ideas and figuring out which country is next on the bucket list of places to see.

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