The organic movement has been slow in coming to South Africa, and more domestic consumers are eager to purchase organic food than wine, it can be difficult to find a wine farm in South Africa willing to invest the time and money into growing and producing organic wines. Although many other countries around the world have suffered the same fate, there is in fact a market for South African organic wines, both at home and abroad, and so there is a growing trend for new wine farms to turn their hand to organic methods in order to create unique selling points for their wine.
The common drinker may not understand the reasons behind demanding organic wine, but in fact it is a very strong movement in Europe and America, and South Africa is responding to those calls for organic wine quite vigorously. The name organic wine is only given to wine made from organically grown grapes where the vine has been farmed organically for three years or more. Some organic wine farms believe in adding a little bit of sulphur to their wines in order to enhance the taste and ensure that the wine is preserved for long periods of time. Sulphur helps to eliminate bacteria which could contaminate organic wines, and affect the taste. However, a number of organic wine growers avoid adding sulphur to their wines, arguing that it gives their products a clearer, crisper taste.
There are several benefits to organic wines, mostly in the taste and character of the wines. Organic farms in the Klein Karoo, where the climate is considerably drier than elsewhere, find that it is easier to manage their grapes. The colder climates can encourage rot and problems with the growth of vines, so it is less likely that organic farmers will find much happiness in that part of the wine-growing district. Some wine growers will offer a completely organic process, while others will only offer one or two wines which have been treated organically.
There are several vineyards and wine estates in South Africa who now offer a variety of organic wines. Reyneke Vineyards is the only biodynamic grower to be certified in South Africa, and the wine maker has won awards for both his red and white wines, demonstrating that organic wines can be tasty and fresh. Perhaps one of the most well-known of the organic wine producers is Stellar winery, on the boundary of Olifant’s River. This farm is both organic and fairtrade, marking it out as a very individual wine producer. A good blend of white wines produced by the company is its 2008 Running Duck White wine blend, containing both Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc. This winery has produced a wine that has a big nose, full of tropical fruits such as pineapple and guava, as well as a grassy note from the Sauvignon. It is a dry, crisp wine that is suitable for many foods, including pasta and salads, this wine can be enjoyed by anyone interested in organic food and drink
Information courtesy of Wine SA