Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time and the experiences we invite into our life. I’ve made a vow to myself to embrace only what I love in 2015, and to really cut out all negativity, all kill joys and loveless anchors and to say yes to even the littlest of new experiences. I’m fortunate that often I don’t even have to go look for new experiences to embrace as, due to the nature of my job (which is also really my passion), the Universe sends engaging experiences my way all the time.
More recently it was in the form of a harvest day at Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West.
As harvest was concluded early this year there really wasn’t much grape picking left to do, but we did get an informative tutorial on biodynamic farming practices and how it is applied at the farm (which was awarded BWI Champion status in 2008 on the back of its track record of environmental responsibility). Farm manager Christiaan Loots provided us with an in-depth, and somewhat spiritual, explanation of how he ensures the ecosystem at Waterkloof remains balanced and healthy – which is, for all its ‘natural approach’ quite technical, but you can read the details here.
Suffice to say that when drinking wines from Waterkloof you can rest assured that very little harm was done to nature in the making of the final product. They’ve even deployed six Percheron horses to plough, compost, spray and harvest the vineyards instead of using tractors, in order to reduce damage to the soil and vines and to reduce carbon emissions. Apart from being nature’s little (big) helpers, these massive white creatures are really beautiful to watch as they gently make their way along vines.
Of course the biodynamic approach extends to the cellar, where cellarmaster Nadia Barnard aims to produce “honest” wines, expressive of their unique site on the Schapenberg. Minimal intervention is allowed in the cellar, with Nadia following a “hands (nearly) off” approach; allowing wild yeast fermentation to take its time – which can take from one month to a whole year to complete. On the red wine front the hands off approach is followed quite literally as red grapes are stomped by foot (and then sterilised) to allow for gentler colour and flavour extraction.
While you can’t go wrong when buying any of the Waterkloof wines, a firm favourite is Waterkloof’s Seriously Cool Cinsault 2014. It is produced from 40 year old Helderberg bush vines, which gives it a smooth mouth feel with plenty of spice on the palate – we finished bottles from the 2013 and 2014 vintage during lunch at the farm, and were even hinting for more.
Otherwise, try the deliciously satisfying Circle of Life White 2012, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin and Semillon.