Waterkloof Wines is an amazing wine estate located on Sir Lowry’s Road Somerset West, in Stellenbosch which is the epicenter of wine production in South Africa. The estate sits on the top of a mountain of the Schapenberg and gives one a panoramic view of surrounding estates and overlooks picturesque False Bay in the Cape. It is a fertile area with wild flowers on the sidewalks and is about 146 hectares large. The road is narrow, rocky and winding but the estate tractors are hardy enough to navigate the terrain.
A story of Biodiversity and Organic Farming
My day began on top of a tractor under the scorching sun. However, the air was fresh and the soft breeze made the sun more bearable. The smell of fresh wild blooms from the estate filled the air and there were great views from every side. Christian Loots, the estate farmer, gave us a lesson on his philosophy on organic farming. He said that because nature is already perfect, wine farmers need to view themselves as part of nature. They need to use methods that do not harm the soil or environment. This is why they do not use any chemical fertilizers on the farm. They use natural fertilizers, which are made of organic materials like compost made from plants and animal waste.
The farmer also uses homemade microbial fertilizers.They minimize erosion by planting cover crops and minimum tillage. Alongside the vines on some of the plantations, there were some leguminous plants that helped to fix the nitrogen in the air for the crop. What caught my eye was strong and majestic horses ploughing the land. Other animals found on the farm are cows and chicken that provide manure for the crop. Visitors get to see how the organic wines in this estate are produced.
The winery was established in 1993 by Paul Boutinot who was looking for an area that would produce stellar wines. He found an area that already had vines that had been planted but the original owners were using the conventional methods of farming. He needed a prolific team who would help see his vision of organic farming come to life and it is safe to say that he did.
We sat on the back of the tractor. The view
Organic manure and compost
The varietals planted on this farm are Chenin, Chardonnay, Sémillon, Viognier, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon among others. Even the winemaking in Waterkloof wines is as unadulterated as the farming methods. They make sure that they use the finest grapes from their harvest and they do not add any enzymes or cultured yeasts. They do not add any tartaric acid or ascorbic acid. For white wines, they do not do any skin extractions or add any tannins to the red wines. This goes to show that they use organic methods and that is why they produce amazing wine.
One of my favorites was the Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc which was an amazing crisp wine. They also have the Circumstance Range and the Circle of Life range. I got to smell the Circle of life range during the Cape Wine 2015 exhibition and I loved the story behind the wine after having visited the estate.
Cellar in the Sky
I was blown away by the ‘restaurant in the sky’ which is the most spectacular place I have dined. As the name suggests, the restaurant is surrounded by glass walls that let you see the mountain ranges and the wine farm as you dine. For some reason, I felt like I was hanging from the sky. It also has very high walls and ceilings with amazing chandeliers.
The restaurant view
I just found this arrangement so neat
The kitchen is very big and the head chef Gregory Czarnerki is an award winning chef. The open plan of the kitchen emphasizes how open they are in their food preparation as they are in their winemaking. He grew up in Burgundy and the French influence permeates his food and cooking style. His food is delicious and he is celebrated in south Africa’s culinary Industry and even clinching the 3rd spot in Eatout Chef of the Year Awards. These are like the Grammy’s of the South African food scene.
The arrangement for our Organic Producers' Lunch
Aerial view of where we would sit for lunch
On this day he had the Kommetjie Crayfish, Celeriax Creameux and Apple paired with Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2014 and Scali Blanc Blend 2013. We also tried the Stuffed Karoo Saddle, Smokey aubergine (eggplant), ketchup, paprika, Baba Ganoush paired with Laibach Ladybird Red 2013 and Avondale La Luna 2009.
The dessert was Chorizo and Healey's cheddar Toasted Sandwich paired with Circumstance Syrah 2012. Everything in this menu was impeccable and the wines were just the icing on the cake. It is interesting how a wine can complement an already perfect meal.
Kommetjie Crayfish, Celeriax Creameux and Apple paired with Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2014
How unique is this label?
Nadia of Waterkloof Wines
The view from the Cellar in the sky
All the wine people
The place is very accessible. From Cape Town International Airport, drive to Stellenbosch to Sir Lowry's Pass Road, Somerset West, 7129. There are many accommodation options in Stellenbosch depending on your preference and rates.
Sir Lowry's Pass Road, Somerset West, 7129.
A visitor in this region will be awed by the breathtaking views and they expect to learn more about organic farming. They get to walk around the farm and see how the farm uses compost from the animals and the plants around them. The farmer will also take you around the farm where you will get to see the different types of cultivars. Prepare to get your taste buds excited because dining in the restaurant is a must do. Make sure you get a window seat to all the beauty that surrounds you.
All photos taken by me.
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