Waterkloof – Elegant Wines from Biodynamically Farmed Grapes
We are honored to stock the incredible range of Honest Wines from Waterkloof Wines. Yes, we are all about supporting the real food movement! ARE YOU?!
The method of Biodynamic farming at Waterkloof Wines, embodies our approach. Our viewpoint of supporting farmers with organic philosophies, ties in with our passion for working with and supporting nature, in its purest form, and then being able to provide our loyal customer with the best our motherland can produce. So listen up…
A whole new Earth.
Biodynamic agriculture is an advanced form of alternative, organic and regenerative cultivation. The concept was brought to life between 1861 and 1925, when Rudolf Steiner developed esoteric ideas that marks the beginning of organic agriculture movements. Biodynamic agriculture treats soil fertility, plant growth and livestock maintenance as ecologically integrative entities. This includes the unique approach that animals, crops and soil is seen as a single system. Bestow the energies of the earth and sky, the belief that all this are connected together as one living organism, forms the basic principles of biodynamic farming.
This ‘ecosystem’ exists within a greater whole, and the environment, social and economic factors need to be considered.
One very important aspect about biodynamic farming is that it emphasizes the use of manure and composts and unlike conventional farming methods, excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Biodynamic farming moves away from the exploitation of the earth’s resources and aims to achieve an ecological balance, while keeping negative effects on the earth as minimal as possible.
Biodynamic Farming at Waterkloof
Waterkloof Wines is situated within the Cape Floral Region, one of the world’s foremost biodiversity hotspots, on the slopes of the Schapenberg.
It is here where Farm Manager Christiaan Loots, helped to turn the 120 hectare farm into the biodiversity champion it is today.
He took charge of the farm’s transformation from conventional to biodynamic farming practices which all started in 2008. One of his biggest challenges was to rebuild the soil structure, as conventional farming essentially treats the soil as something to hold up the vines and nothing more. Christiaan and his dedicated team had to transform acidic, compacted soil into living soil, high in organic matter and with a diverse microbial and fungal count and the ability to nourish the vines.
“This all takes time but thankfully our efforts paid off as we did start noticing real benefits in 2011. We work to create a diverse, balanced ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself’’ – Christiaan Loots, Farm Manager Waterkloof Wines.
How it all started
It took ten years for Paul Boutinot, Waterkloof custodian and British wine figure, to narrow down his global search for “a vineyard site with the potential to produce truly fine wines with a defining sense of origin”.
Following extensive experience making wines (with other people’s grapes) in Europe and latterly in South Africa, his search led him to the coastal outskirts of the Stellenbosch wine region in 2003. It was here, on the elevated, windswept slopes of the Schapenberg, where a natural amphitheater of vineyards, mountains and uninterrupted views of False Bay, exude the fairest Cape’s natural beauty, that Paul would establish Waterkloof and begin making wine in 2005.
“I chose Waterkloof for site specific reasons. It just happened to be in South Africa, just as Romanée-Conti just happens to be in France. If I went back in time I would make the same decision…only quicker. We have worked hard, learned and improved a lot over the past decade, with more still to come!” shares Boutinot.
He was joined by an esteemed team, Cellarmaster Nadia Barnard and Farm Manager Christiaan Loots, and together they determined which varieties, root-stocks and trellis systems to use, by following the wisdom of the traditional farming experience and soil surveys.
They started with a large-scale replanting and new planting project that was completed in 2008. After extensive research, multiple biodynamic vineyard visits and wine tastings around the world, it was decided in 2008 to begin the conversion of Waterkloof to a fully-fledged biodynamic farm, and not just to perceive a trend.
“It is our aim to grow grapes, which are as healthy, balanced and characterful as our natural circumstances will allow. We do not treat biodynamic wines as a category; it is more an ancillary element to our wines’ identity. The best quality fruit is always our goal, because the healthier the fruit, the better the wine.” – Paul Boutinot, Waterkloof Wines Custodian.
Half of the farm was preserved, its unique and bountiful natural vegetation of fauna and flora, and having made great efforts to clear the alien tree species from the farm and move down the road of sustainable and organic farming, Waterkloof was one of the first wine estates in South Africa to be awarded WWF Biodiversity and Wine Initiative Champion status.
A year after that the avant-garde gravitational cellar, tasting room and restaurant (with 2016 Eat Out San Pellegrino Chef of the Year Chef Gregory Czarnecki at the helm) was constructed, and global exporting of their wines took off.
None of the conventional farming methods, such as the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and even the modern, standardized winemaking techniques – such as interfering with the natural aroma profile by using aromatic yeasts, are used at Waterkloof – since they believe that these methods inhibits the subtle differences between various vineyards and winegrowing areas – and doesn’t aid in complementing the natural character of the wines.
Taking the unpredictable forces of nature in consideration, however, has proven to be a challenge on its own. Still, it is their firm belief that with biodynamic farming and minimal intervention winemaking, a wine of vitality and a wine true to its sense of origin, could be produced.
“You can have the best ingredients in the world, but without treating them respectfully, you can never make a true wine of origin. We monitor, we do not dictate.” – Nadia Barnard, Waterkloof Cellarmaster.
To reach biodynamic status, they believed that cultivating the farm that’s alive and in tune with its natural environment from the surrounding eco-system to the rocky soil in which the vines grow, was the only way to go. It is however, not an easy task.
The vines, which have been transformed by biodynamic farming methods devoid of chemical herbicides, fertilisers and pesticides, are much healthier and substantially more disease-resistant than ten years before. This, in addition to a reduction in yields, has resulted in an enormous increase in grape quality.
“We’ve taken the site from its raw potential to a position where we are experiencing this quality in the bottle. The building blocks are now in place and the wines will increase in depth as the vines grow older, whilst our essential elegant style will remain” – Nadia Barnard, Waterkloof Cellarmaster.
Biodiversity is the sum of all living things on earth, from genes to entire ecosystems. Therefore, in order for Waterkloof to conserve biodiversity, they had to look after all its components.
Having achieved Biodiversity Champion status in 2008, (and earning additional recognition for a proven track record of environmental responsibility) the team at Waterkloof saw amazing results from the few hectares of vineyard that was planted and cared for. Soon, the whole farm was transformed and upon completion in 2012, the farm began its official certification process.
Waterkloof is only the tenth producer to be awarded this level of recognition.
It wasn’t without a lot of hard work and dedication. There were lots to do and certain measures had to be introduced to convert the farm to biodynamic, such as;
- Drip irrigations to save water,
- biological control of pests as an alternative to chemical spraying,
- re-establishing natural vegetation in previously disturbed areas,
- installing perches for birds of prey in order to use natural rodent control measures,
- working with 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,
- keeping a flock of chickens, to reduce the number of pests in the vineyard and to bring more nitrogen back into our soil and composts, as well as providing fresh, free-range eggs for its resident, award-winning restaurant,
- planting a permaculture garden to provide vegetables and herbs for the restaurant,
- undertaking certain vineyard and cellar activities at specific times, depending on the phase of the moon. It is clear from the rising tides during full moon, that the natural world is affected by this phenomenon,
- developing their own earthworm farm using old wine barrels, so that they can use earthworm tea on the vegetable and herb garden and occasionally in the vineyard,
just to name a few…
Is there proof in the pudding?
Waterkloof currently produces four wine collections:
Its flagship Waterkloof range which comprises a Sauvignon Blanc that epitomises their goal of producing pure, inimitable and world-class wines;
the Circle of Life Red and White duo which encapsulates the ultimate essence of Waterkloof terroir and farming philosophy;
the elegantly expressive site specific Circumstance range and the Seriously Cool range, which features a seriously cool Cinsault and Chenin Blanc, hailing from some of the oldest vineyards in Stellenbosch.
Waterkloof’s sister company, False Bay Vineyards, produces two collections:
the earlier drinking, yet refined Peacock Wild Ferment range, named after the brightly plumed birds conspicuous in and around Waterkloof’s vineyards,
and the False Bay wine range of easy-drinking, yet quality driven wines of real individual character at an affordable, everyday price.
When you browse our selection of honest wines in store, look out for the accessible False Bay range named after South Africa’s most iconic bay and born from a desire to make ‘real’ wine affordable: including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Rosé, Pinotage and Shiraz. We also stock the Peacock Wild Ferment range, which stems from selected vineyards in and around Waterkloof.
Kindly note that only some of the Waterkloof wines from 2015/2016 vintage are officially certified as biodynamic wines.
Paul has built a thriving business by doing things differently. His private investment in Waterkloof is not that of the archetypical foreign-based lifestyle investor, but rather as a hands-on dedicated entrepreneur-to-winemaker. It is his desire to consistently produce truly fine wines with a defining sense of origin.
“Our desire for Waterkloof has always been to create a perfectly functioning environment within a form that radiates beauty,” says Paul Boutinot. “We hope that the design and execution stands the test of time.”
We urge you to support our local food heroes, by joining the #realhonestfood movement. Nothing quite like doing your health some good while helping the environment out at the same time.
This wine is not only real, but the taste is amazing and truly unique. It can stand its own against any excellent wine with the knowledge that it is as pure as possible.