Biodynamics? Doesn’t that mean its organic? or they just don’t use synthetic products? or they don’t use modern equipment?
Simply put, biodynamics means they rely on the gifts of nature during their production process.
And at Waterkloof, Just nature is plenty.
Their ideas and methods are unlike anything I’d heard of. It would gob-smack even the greatest hippies.
This is Waterkloof’s incredible story.
The ratio of working days to rest days are too imbalanced. It’s too little play for the amount of work.
Because of this very reason, we have soundly decided to take a small break – smack bang in the middle of the week.
And because nothing sooths a restless soul like good wine, good food and good company, we have a mid-week break at a wine estate.
A brand new one for every week.
This is the Cape after all.
Welcome to our Midweek getaway posts.
Despite the fact that it was misty and cloudy when i arrived at the estate, the view still was the best in Helderberg.
I was not only going to be trying their wines, but i was going to receive a tour of their entire estate. An in depth look into the work of our Estate next door.
As we got into the van for the much-anticipated tour, the first story already had me shaking my head in surprise.
Waterkloof prides itself in using all that nature has to offer in the preparation of their wines. This will not only ensure a sincere taste, but have no impact on the environment.
So, the water used daily for cleaning the cellars and barrels are reused. After being filtered, the water is allocated again to different parts of the farm and vineyards to ensure nothing goes to waste.
Driving along the vast vineyards, I couldn’t help but notice tall stumps planted in the middle of the vineyards at random locations. It was the first estate I’d seen it at.
The purpose of those were to give birds of prey a resting place. They depend on the birds to catch small animals in the fields that would potentially ruin the grapes. This cancels out the need for pest-and-herbicides.
Pretty clever and inexpensive.
Apart from that, Waterkloof gathers dung from the livestock on their farms, and places it in allocated areas in the ground. This, combined with home-made good bacteria, breaks down the dung and turns it into a concentrated form of compost.
There was a story too, of a special kind of compost. Dung is stuffed into cow-horns and buried deep underground. The pressure from all the soil on top, allows the dung to withdraw large amounts of calcium from the bone.
Once it has been dug up, months later, the dung inside is the best, most potent form of compost imaginable.
This is diluted and manages to spread over hectares of land.
I really, really hope that I’m not the only one who finds this particular story about dung rather enchanting.
Moving onto the next part of the tour, I got to see the small, five-liter containers where the bacteria is currently busy forming.
The first bottle contained fish-guts gathered from the beaches in Strand. The next bottle contained more dung. (At this point, I was seriously questioning whether they were wine makers or cattle farmers.)
Each of these bottles were odourless, and stood in the sun for months so that the good bacteria can multiply and multiply.
It is then mixed with water and put through a hand-made, plastic waterfall. This energises the bacteria and prepares it for when it needs to go onto the crops.
The hardest workers in the estate, are these huge, beautiful Persian horses, who do the ploughing of the vineyards. Trackors tend to compress the soil, whereas the hooves of the horses do the complete opposite. They were peacefully grazing this day, building their strength for where the actual work would begin.
I marveled for a long time at their size and absolute beauty. My favourite part of the tour thus far.
There were so many other things that were mentioned about the estate and their strive towards complete harmony with nature:
Every single alien plant and tree had been taken down and they have over a hundred Fynbos species.
Chickens were often released into the vineyards to remove bugs and pests.
The hay which the cows and horses sleep on soak up their urine – which has so many minerals – and are used in the compost heap.
Each row between the vines have a different sort of flower planted there. Each year, they also change the sort of flowers planted. This serves many purposes: different plants retrieve different nutrients from the ground. When it is lifted during ploughing, it gives the grape a different flavour each time.
By changing yearly, it also confuses the bees and prevents them from becoming comfortable.
The list goes on, and on, and on. The methods are so simple, but clearly deeply thought out. Such precise details that go into every single step of the wine making.
I understood, as we walked back into the building, why this farm was doing as well as it did – and why it tastes as good as it does.
It seemed rather ironic that a farm with such simple, old-style farming methods had one of the most beautiful and modern buildings I’d ever seen in. Beautiful enough to have featured in an Out-surance advertisement a while back.
Their restaurant, rated in the top 6 in the country, was elegant and classy and unfortunately not part of my treat for the day. But it will in fact, be going onto my to-do list.
Wining would be the only thing on this agenda.
Waterkloof has the longest list of wines. Four different brands of their own grapes, as well as two labels from grapes of the False Bay area.
Each brand has a range of different wines, including white and red blends, usual cultivars and even strange cultivars – like Cinsault.
This, inevitably made it impossible to choose for tasting. I would have picked every single wine – since i knew how great their wine is- but that would mean tasting over thirty wines.
Maybe not today.
It might not sound rational, but during the tasting, I could almost taste the sincerity in the wine. I could taste the fact that nature contributed to this wine in such unique ways.
It was either that, or the appreciation for everything I had just experienced was overwhelming.
Either way, the wine was tremendous!
For research purposes, I compared each brand’s cultivar to the other, as well as vintages of the same label.
It was the most fun, and fascinating tasting thus far. The fact that there was so many to choose from and compare was spectacular.
Another amazing fact that I was told as I sipped at my chilled Chardonnay, was about the tanks in the window.
Usually during the process, the wine is pumped through the tanks. Waterkloof however, built the tanks on the third floor and depends on gravity to pull the wine down the tank. This is nature’s way of pumping it for them.
Simple. Effective. brilliant.
In all aspects, Waterkloof is a 110% natural wine. The only reason it cannot be called Organic, is because of the added sulfates.
But I, without a doubt, consider this a better alternative wine, since I got to experience their absolutely remarkable process.
I could do this, again and again. This estate. This wine. This experience and this learning opportunity.
I will recommend this estate and this wine to anyone that asks. Again and again.
And i will have their wine again and again.
And i will repeat their story to everyone, as if it were my own.
We stock the following wines from Waterkloof:
Circle of life:
- Red blend @ R161
- White blend @ R161
- Cabernet Sauv @ R151
- Chardonnay @ R150
- Chenin @ R150
- Rose @ R101
- Merlot @ R154
- Sauvignon Blanc @ R98
- Cinsault @ R112
- Chenin @ R91
All priced at R56/bottle
- Sauvignon Blanc
- 187ml Sauvginon Blanc bottle at R17
All priced at R75/bottle
- Cabernet Sauv
- Sauvignon Blanc