On the slopes of the Schapenberg Mountains in the Helderberg Winelands lies Waterkloof Estate, a biodynamic winery producing interesting and delicious wines using entirely natural techniques.
The Publik team partake in regular monthly wine missions. These see us visiting the farms, meeting the winemakers and learning about the winemaking processes – after all, it’s important to be able to understand and appreciate the effort that goes into the wines we sell. Plus it’s a lot of fun.
So, biodynamic farming? Knowing very little about it (other than something about cow horns planted under vineyards and attention paid to the wane and wax of the moon) we visited the beautiful Waterkloof Estate and were shown around by Cellarmaster Nadia Barnard.
At Waterkloof, the belief is that conventional farming methods (such as using chemical pesticides and fertilizers), combined with modern and standardised winemaking techniques breaks down the true potential of the land. Thus they endeavour to grow their vineyards and produce wines using techniques that enhance the soil and evoke its true character.
Although working with the unpredictable forces of nature – as opposed to fighting against them with the use of conventional farming methods – poses its own set of challenges. The farm follows the ethos that biodynamic farming and minimal intervention winemaking produces wines of vitality, which have a truly defining sense of origin.
Being only one of a few certified biodynamic wine farms in South Africa, it was fascinating to learn the – very natural – techniques. Making their own compost, using chickens in the vineyards for pest control, horses instead of tractors, and yes, cow horns under vineyards, it was an excellent opportunity to discover as a team the workmanship that goes into the wines we pour. It was also a day of laughing at the hilarious antics of particular teammates (we won’t go into detail about Andries missing the spittoon entirely and spitting instead on Dave’s shoe), but it was also a chance for us to tour the cellar, wine taste, eat cheese and relax on the tasting room balcony overlooking breathtaking views of the Schapenberg valley. What a great start to the weekend.
Be sure to try the Waterkloof Cinsault 2014 and Cabernet Franc 2012, both available on our site and on occasion in the bar. Visit the wine farm for an organised tour or have lunch in the restaurant, Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Somerset West.
Photography David Cope, Words Lisa Wallace