With the 2009 vintage hailed as one of the most outstanding in living memory, the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG) is pleased to announce that it will be showing a range of top examples of this variety at Prowein in Dusseldorf, Germany, from 21 to 23 March 2010.  “It is an honour and a privilege for us that Wines of South Africa (WOSA) has once again asked us to present a theme tasting after the success of a similar table at Prowein two years ago” according to Erika Obermeyer, chairperson of the SBIG.

As in the past the SBIG table will be manned by Pieter de Waal, who has presented similar tastings at many other international shows over the past few years.  He states that: “the value of exposing top examples of South African Sauvignon Blanc at international shows is that visitors walk away with a new perspective on the quality and diversity that is the signature of our Sauvignon Blanc wines.  In the past decade we have seen more and more interest, especially because our wines offer such a wide range of flavours and styles, yet manage to have a golden thread of crisp fruit, minerality and balance running through them”.

According to Petra Mayer, WOSA’s representative in Germany, South African Sauvignon Blanc “offers the consumer a premium quality taste experience at a very competitive price seen in international terms.   The wines have the benefit of showing great balance and length with a core of intense fruit that lingers on the palate.  This is what consumers in Germany are looking for and we are confident that South African Sauvignon Blanc has a bright future ahead of it as more consumers get to taste and enjoy it”.

The SBIG has also been asked to do two presentations as part of the “Down To Earth” series of seminars at Prowein (  These presentations, entitled “Sense of Place”, will be showing the unique growing conditions that the Cape offer for the cultivation of world-class Sauvignon Blanc wines, whether it be a vineyard less than a kilometre from the ocean or one more than a kilometre above sea level.

The following wines have been selected as the “Pick of the Pack @ Prowein 2010”:

Boschendal 1685 Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2009
D’Aria Sauvignon Blanc 2009
De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Diemersdal Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Fryers Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Jordan Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Lomond Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Nederburg FIFA Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Nitida Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Oak Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Spier Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Springfield Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Steenberg Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2009

For more information on Prowein, visit:
For more information on WOSA Germany, visit:  www.


ISSUED BY:  The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG)
Contact: or 083 357 3864


Visiting on their Vespa’s

Posted by Ethene and David traveling the Winelands on their Vespa’s

For the full story go to

“Afterwards Pieter Ferreira (Mr Bubbles) invited us to Graham Beck’s Robertson cellar to sample the whole range of their Method Cap Classique sparkling wines. From the non-vintage Graham Beck Brut and Brut Rosé, via the vintage wines to the awesome Cuvée Clive, these are delicious examples of fine bubblies and it’s easy to see why more and more people are discovering the delights of drinking bubbles as everyday fare, rather than for celebrations only. Somehow we managed to pilot our Vespas back to the hotel, where we hear Pieter Ferreira is entertaining a French winemaker to a farewell dinner after he’s spent a vintage in the Cellar here.This could turn out to be a long, vinous evening.”

Sustainable farming practices


Once upon a time on farms in Stellenbosch owls roamed the vineyards looking for mice.
But as years passed and farming techniques became less friendly towards them, farmers stopped spotting them as often. As the owls disappeared, the mice became a pest for the farmers.

Some said it would be wise to introduce chemical solutions to control the mice, despite their harsh green footprint. But wine farm Neethlingshof decided on a more sustainable measure: bring back the owls. The challenge was to get the owls to breed again on Neethlingshof to establish a resident population, the farm management says. “As their favourite way of hunting is swooping down on their prey, owl posts were erected on the vineyards close to where the field mice created the most damage.”

Since the introduction of the programme, the number of mice has dropped considerably. Now Neethlingshof is selling the narrative of the return of the owls to its farms as a wine.
The Owl Post tells the story of how owls and not chemicals defeated the mice. Wine critics love the wine, not simply for its green story, but because the wine matches its green credentials with taste. The Owl Post, a single-vineyard Pinotage, was formerly known as Lord Neethling and is one of the estate’s premier wines.

Neethlingshof also markets its flagship Bordeaux blend, The Caracal, in the same way. Previously known as Laurentius, the wine celebrates the return of the rooikat, or caracal, to Neethlingshof. Although abundant in the Western Cape until the middle of the past century, a loss of habitat and natural prey (guinea fowl and small antelope) slashed their numbers.Neethlingshof staff say that in the past two years caracal living in the hills of the adjoining Bottelary conservancy started migrating to Neethlingshof, attracted by the swarms of guinea fowl.

“There are strong indications that caracal have started breeding in the densely wooded areas around the granite hills on the farm,” the farm’s staff say. The wine farm is just one of many Cape wine farms that are opting for the green route, conserving the unique Cape Floral Kingdom and using sustainable farming practices.

Like Neethlingshof, Lomond near Gansbaai has used conservation as a marketing tool for its wines, naming them after fynbos such as the Conebush (shiraz), Snowbush (white blend) and Pincushion (sauvignon blanc). Lomond conserves about 200ha, including Elim ferricrete fynbos, which is an endangered vegetation type. It is also a member of the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. All its vineyards, planted in 2000, were established on previously cultivated land and not on virgin land.

Because 90% of South Africa’s wine production occurs within the Cape floral kingdom, environmentalists were concerned that the Cape might lose its fynbos to make way for vineyards.

But following an initial study by the Botanical Society of South Africa and Conservation International, the wine industry and the conservation sector began a journey together to protect the rich biodiversity of the kingdom. Called the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, it presents a great opportunity for both the wine and conservation sectors.

The wine industry benefits from using the biodiversity of the floral kingdom as a unique marketing tool to sell its wines to green-conscious consumers, while conservationists benefit from pioneering biodiversity best practices in the wine industry.

Champions of the initiative include Backsberg, Cloof Wine Estate, Delheim, Hermanuspietersfontein, Graham Beck Wines, Vergelegen and Waverley Hills Organic Wines. Like many of these farms, Neethlingshof moved away from a monoculture of vines and, by doing so, it has been able to reserve 116ha, or 42%, of the farm for conservation.

Corridors of indigenous vegetation were created to allow free movement of non-flying insects between vineyards and renosterveld areas.

In the past five years the farm has strived to recreate a balance between vineyard developments and natural fynbos and renosterveld. In certain cases vineyards were uprooted and replaced with renosterveld species that occurred naturally in this environment. The eradication of alien vegetation is an ongoing process and to date 15ha have been cleared and the return of renosterveld species promoted. Renosterveld islands are created within existing vineyards to promote the return of beneficial insects that occurred in the vineyards many years ago.

Although biodiversity from the outset formed the basis of the replanting programme, it really gained momentum only when viticulturist professor Eben Archer was appointed on a permanent basis at Neethlingshof in 2003, farm management says.

The main purpose of the biodiversity programme is to restore the natural wild life (insects, birds, snakes, small mammals and caracal) to help regain the original balance.

The insects help control pests in the vineyards. To keep their numbers in check, guinea fowl, for which they are a natural food source, were introduced, while certain undisturbed wooded areas attracted caracal (which in turn prey on guinea fowl) from the hills of the adjoining conservancy. No snakes on the farm are harmed because they help control rodents damaging the roots of the vines. Owl posts are spread through the vineyard. But farming green with wine is not only about protecting the fauna and flora.

Green wine pioneer Backsberg states proudly that every underlying principle of its policies and business must be evaluated to see what impact it has on the environment. It then adjusts its principles accordingly. Michael Back, proprietor of the estate, says Backsberg is committed to operating in a green and sustainable way and thus the integrity of what the farm does has to be above reproach and open to debate.

The first area of focus for Backsberg was to reduce its carbon footprint. Back says a carbon audit revealed that 90% of the farm’s emissions were from electricity and fuel.
Energy reductions the farm has introduced include buildings being fitted with energy-saving bulbs. It has also investigated skylights to introduce natural lighting. Backsberg’s diesel boiler was replaced with an ozone generator, “meaning that all sterilising is now done with ozone-enriched water”, Back says. The fermentation temperature control of red wines was revamped totally, with water from the dam used to cool the wine down to the appropriate temperature. The dam water can be recycled, which does not impact on the farm’s water footprint. The farm also replaced large tractors with smaller vehicles and it has scaled down its vehicles in general.

SA wines a corker at UK awards ceremony
South African wines sparkled at the inaugural Drinks Business Green Awards this week in the United Kingdom, highlighting again the environmental work that wine farms in the Cape perform. The international Drinks Business Green Awards are designed to highlight and reward leadership on environment, sustainability and climate change.

Paul Cluver, founder of Paul Cluver Wines, won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his ongoing visionary approach to conservation and exemplary environmental credentials.

Inge Kotzé of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative was awarded the Personality Award, and Backsberg Estate walked away with the Sustainability Award.

Paul Cluver Wines and Stellar Organics were named runners-up in the Ethical Award category, giving South Africa a notable presence in four of the eight award results.

Commenting on the success, Su Birch, chief executive of Wines of South Africa, said: “This is a significant moment in the development of South Africa’s green credentials and we are delighted so many of our champions are being recognised for the substantial contributions they are making to the advancement of sustainable practice in the wine industry.

“South Africa is a leader in production integrity and is committed to working in harmony with the environment to ensure long-term sustainable and profitable growth.”

Cape Winemakers Guild – News!

State-owned company seeks rights to prospect in prime Western Cape winelands

THE CAPE Winemakers Guild has joined Western Cape farmers in opposition to an application that has been made by a state-owned company to prospect for minerals on their farms, which include some of the country’s best vineyards.

The owner of De Grendel wine estate, Sir David Graaff, who is a former deputy trade and industry minister, is taking on the state, which through a subsidiary of the Central Energy Fund is seeking mining prospecting rights on his farm.

The application comes as the cabinet considers a proposal by the minerals ministry for one state mining company to be formed that would embrace all mining interests of the state.

This follows President Jacob Zuma’s remarks last week that while the state had no intention of nationalising mining companies, this did not mean the state would be excluded from mining activities.

The DA, which rules the Western Cape together with the ID, has bitterly opposed the application for exploration rights by the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC), which wants the prospecting rights in the Bottelary area of Stellenbosch as well as an area of Tygerberg, which lies on the boundary of the Cape Town metropolitan area.

Other prominent farms affected are Hooggelegen, Langverwacht, Haasendal, Jordan and Rosendal.

DA MP Hendrik Schmidt said mineral exploration and other mining activities should not be the function of a state- owned company.
The state has also come under fire for being both a player and a referee as the Department of Minerals and Energy is responsible for granting the licence.

Department spokesman Jeremy Michaels said the application would be processed in line with the relevant legislation “without fear or favour regardless of whom the applicant is “.

Graaff, who turned to farming full time after retiring from politics 11 years ago, said he did not want a company “making holes” in the ground in the middlle of his vines and pledged to fight against the prospecting application.

Cape Winemakers’ Guild chairman Johan Malan said the guild believed that not only would the proposed mining activities destroy the Unesco- registered Bottelary Renosterbos Conservancy and the vineyards that attracted large numbers of tourists to South Africa every year, “it will also result in the loss of employment and income for a great many families working on the wine farms in these areas”.

The guild represents a range of famous wine estates including Neil Ellis, De Grendel Wines, Graham Beck Wines, Groot Constantia, Hartenberg, Kanonkop, Paul Cluver Wines and Spier.

The AEMFC has applied for rights to prospect for tin, zinc, lithium, lead, copper, manganese and silver.

Graaff said there were some old mines on De Grendel dating back to the late 1800s when “fool’s gold” was mined. It was found to be valueless.

Sizwe Madondo, the chief executive of AEMFC, said his company undertook “a desktop study” and the investigations discovered there were industrial minerals in the area “and in our question to understand the geology of the area we decided to apply for a prospecting right which will give us legal access in the ground for geological investigations”.

“The prospecting right is not a mining licence and wifi not give us any right to degrade the environment in any way,” The De Grendel wine estate is one of several wine farms that are under threat from an application by a state-owned mining company to prospect for minerals in the Western Cape. Madondo said.

Asked why objections had to be lodged so soon – by March 9 – Madondo said the law gave the AEMFC only 30 days to complete the public consultation process.

Donwald Pressly – Business Report

Miner digs in on winelands application

A major row is brewing between some Western Cape wine estate owners and African Exploration Mining & Finance Corporation (AEMFC) over the state-owned company’s plans to start mining on farms in the Stellenbosch and Cape Town municipal areas.

News last week of an application by AEMFC for rights to prospect for and possibly mine tin, zinc, lead, lithium, copper, manganese and silver on the farms angered wine farmers, residents and environmental groups.

They have voiced concern that mining could disturb ecodiversity, and affect tourism and the quality of wines produced in the region.

AEMFC said yesterday that it would not withdraw its application for mineral rights in the region, and it was up to the Department of Mineral Resources to accept or reject its application.

AEMFC CEO Sizwe Madondo said the company would not back down. “This is still an application and anyone has the right to raise an objection about it. We are still going ahead with the application and it is only the (department) that has to make a determination.”

Wine estate owner Gary Jordan said yesterday that farmers, residents and environmental groups had met at the weekend and resolved to challenge the application. Further meetings have been planned for this week by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to mobilise against the state mining house’s intentions.

Jordan said wine farmers were livid because they were not given any opportunity to raise their objections to the application.

“The major problem here is that we were not given any opportunity to object and our concern is that the government is trying to bulldoze this through.

“This has been a shoddy process and is a deliberate attempt to exclude the public from raising its concerns in the matter.

“There is a conflict of interest here in that AEMFC is a state company and the (department) has to decide on its application,” Jordan said.

“We will take the matter up with the minister, failing which we will take the legal route to challenge the issue in our bid to have the process declared flawed.”

DA spokesman Hendrik Schmidt said that, in essence, the state, as the shareholder of AEMFC, had applied for the granting of a prospecting right while also serving as the required authority in the awarding of those same prospecting rights.

“This position is clearly untenable as it simultaneously acts as both player and referee in the proposed mineral regime being implemented by the government,” he said.

Department spokesman Jeremy Michaels said: “The Department of Mineral Resources processes applications for prospecting rights strictly within the limits of relevant legislation, and we do so without fear or favour regardless of who the applicant is.”

Jordan said there were seven major wine estates that stood to be affected by the state mining company’s move, and these included prominent farms such as Hooggelegen, De Grendel, Langverwacht and Haasendal.

All of these farms were members of the Bottelary Renosterbos Conservancy, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation biodiversity site.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said the areas affected formed part of landowner conservancies, established by wine farmers to conserve and promote awareness of the region’s biodiversity.

Inge Kotze of WWF’s Biodiversity & Wine initiative, said these landowners had invested significantly in removing invasive vegetation and rehabilitating the area for the past decade, and were among the first to be recognised as Biodiversity & Wine members.

“Not only would mining in this area have a massive impact on the conservation of biodiversity, but it would have major economic impacts on booming wine tourism, along with significant job losses,” Kotze said.

Posted by BHEKI MPOFU Resources Editor