Whether you prefer red or white, think green
Organic Goes Mainstream
Though the organic movement has been rather slow in coming to South Africa, initial reservations are fading as consumer thirst for healthier living increases. Local estates have realised that going organic creates unique selling points. Ducks and geese foraging for snails, horse-drawn ploughs, more indigenous than alien plant life, and farms with conservation educational programmes are not unusual in the Cape’s winelands any more.
When a label says “organic”, the wine has been verified and certified free of any herbicides, pesticides or any added, unnatural substance by an approved certification body. Different countries have their own certification criteria, so what’s organic in one country may not be so in another. Many wineries that are technically organic still choose not to be certified. There are many reasons for this. Some do not want the added costs and bureaucracy of registering.
Organic brands stocked at Checkers
• Reyneke – “Instead of spraying weeds with poison, we grow companion plants amongst our vines to outcompete the weeds that have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, help break-up compacted soil or even harbour a beneficial insect or two. We simply release the vineyard pests’ natural predators, like ducks – there’s nothing more delicious for a duck than a good, juicy snail. By allowing dandelion ‘weeds’ to grow, we ensure that the measly Mealybug lives on its roots rather than the vines.”
Try their Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon White Blend or Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend
• Waverley Hills – “We fertilise with composts and manures, use cover crops such as vetch and legumes for soil improvement and as host plants for beneficial insects. We also cover the ground surrounding the vineyards with black netting to assist in weed/grass control. We allow some indigenous vegetation in proximity to the vines to grow wild. These areas provide food and a natural habitat for the indigenous fauna to flourish, adding a healthy diversity to our vineyard's ecosystem.”
Try their Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Red Blend or Viognier/Semillon/Chardonnay White Blend
• Earthbound range from Nederburg – “Our focus is on producing good quality wines that are organically grown with Fairtrade principles, complying to an ethical certification whose main aim is to promote more equality and sustainability in the farming sector. We care about our people, the environment, sustainable farming, the organic wines we produce and about what we put into the earth.”
Try their Chenin Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon
• Laibach – “Organic vineyard management is based on farming fundamentals: building organic matter in soil with cover crops, controlling weeds by physical means, encouraging natural airflow around the fruit and welcoming the natural enemies of vineyard pests by seeding fennel and yarrow around the vineyards as an inviting breeding ground for them.
Try their Ladybird Red Blend
To acknowledge how far wine producers have come in terms of conserving the land while making greener, better wines, the Nedbank Green Wine Awards were launched in 2009. Visit www.greenwineawards.com