Sustainability is key in life. Well if we want to leave anything for other generations that are to follow. Especially in a wine industry as old as that of South Africa (since 1659). Sustainable wine solutions are an integral part of our history as a country and something Abraham Izak Perold helped develop and support in the early 1900s. This is therefore still a passion and forms such an important part of the character of the wine each farm produces.
At Perold Wine Cellar the story of the wine and how it is grown is an important element we’d like to share with fellow wine lovers. There are many classifications and certifications to look out for. However, as with most things in life, the proof is in the pudding. Subsequently, hearing what the farmers and winemakers do is surely the best way to learn. It is so important to look at the consequences of farming. It is not just about making better wine, but also about making wine farming better.
Certifications for Sustainable Wine Solutions
In South Africa, you will find the SWSA (Sustainable Wine South Africa). This is the alliance between the Wine and Spirit Board (WSB), the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) scheme and Wines of South Africa (WoSA).
Internationally you might not always find a certification for sustainable wine solutions. There are other certifications that could form part of the process. However, these are often just too pricey to pursue and might not in fact be economically sustainable. Yet, as I said above. the proof lies in actual practices on the farms and not necessarily certifications.
- These certifications include:
- Organic wine – this means that no pesticides or additives were used in the production of the wine. This certification can be quite expensive and you might find that there are various farms that make use of organic farming without necessarily being certified.
- Biodynamic wine– this is a form of farming that takes the organic ethos to extend to the wider ecology on the farm. This will include practices around soil prepartation and using astrological cycles in planning. In effect a biodynamic wine would be an organic and grown through biodynamic farming.
- Natural wines – this is where the organic ethos is carried over into the cellar. This involves low intervention and would avoid practices like adding yeast or sugar and acidity rectification.
Sustainable farming and wine solutions include using fewer pesticides and chemicals. Both in the wine and in the farming. The use of chemicals increased significantly since the late 20th century and brought with it health and environmental impact. Several studies have suggested a link between pesticides, chemicals and disease. However the environment also suffered as so-called pests for the vines were being killed off, impacting the ecological balance of the surrounding environment. Sustainable solutions also look at how ‘green’ the farming practices are. How they use their surrounding.
Examples of Sustainable Wine Farms We Support
We recently got to chat with Robert Rosenbach from Tanagra Wines as part of a Time to Wine Down event. He explained some of the things they do to make a minimal impact on the environment. For example, they use the manure from the nearby donkey sanctuary to fertilize the vines. They also use a neighbour’s sheep to come and help keep things under control. Other aspects like partner planting and natural fermentation are key to sustainability. They have also joined the WWF’s (World Wide Fund for Nature) sustainable agriculture recently and do amazing work around protecting animals on farms.
Another one of our ecologically wise and animal-friendly winemakers is Jeremy Borg from Painted Wolf Wines. They are dedicated to the production of authentic, distinct and delicious wines and to the conservation of African wild dogs and their natural habitat. In fact, they have donated over R3 million (around £150 000) to this wonderful cause since 2008. They also support the Tusk through their conservation efforts. Painted Wolf Wines donate 5% of their UK profits to Tusk.
Mischa Estate Wine does its part and respects the environment as much as it can.
“By stimulating biodiversity and implementing the best vineyard practices, we create conditions that reduce the need for disease and pest control. To add to our respect for the environment we are constantly improving soil health using:
• Diverse, natural cover crops in the vineyards,
• Alternative, environmentally friendly weed control methods.”
It is also important to note that sustainable wine solutions have an economic element. It would not be sustainable if it cost an arm and a leg. Therefore sustainability refers to ecological, economic and of course socially responsible aspects.
Our part in sustainable wine farming
All the wines we stock use respectful and sustainable agriculture practices. We would love to share their stories with you. Therefore make sure to join our email list to stay up to date with our events, wine tastings and talks. The South African wine industry is currently the 9th largest wine-producing market globally (in 2019). Let us do all we can to support this wonderful industry that provides so much to their surrounding communities.
Sometimes it’s as easy as taking the time to learn more about the farm, the grapes and the values of the wine farm. We’d love to help you do this.