It’s Really All About the Vineyard
At Waterkloof, we use organic as well as regenerative farming methods to ensure that the vines are nourished and in balance. When driving into the farm you are able to see the cows, goats and horses which we use for their manure as well as weed control, ploughing and many other purposes. Our soils are free of chemicals and are kept healthy by using plant extracts, fungi and bacteria from our own, natural compost. Healthier soils mean vines with roots digging deeper than 5 meters, truly expressing the terroir.
These traditional methods, combined with a southwest-facing, windy vineyard site ensure a balanced and naturally low yielding vine that produces intense flavours. The vineyards are about 5 kilometers from the sea and are planted at a height of between 270 and 300 meters above sea level. The soils are of sandstone origin with medium-sized stones, helping with drainage and also with moisture retention. The vineyards are an average age of 18 years.
A Gentle Hand
The winemaking philosophy is the same for all of Waterkloof’s premium white wines. We follow a traditional, minimalistic approach which means that we interfere as little as possible with the winemaking process. This allows the flavours prevalent in that specific vineyard to be expressed in the wine. To achieve this, all grapes are harvested on taste, picked by hand, sorted by hand and finally whole-bunch pressed in our modern basket press, so that we extract the purest juice in the gentlest way. The juice is then settled naturally for 24 hours. As we don’t spray any chemicals in our vineyard, wild yeast is employed to ferment the juice in old 600litre barrels. This leads to a longer fermentation process with a slow release of aromas and a more structured palate. The natural fermentation process took 4 months to complete, after which the wine was left on the gross less until bottling later in the year. We do not add any acid or enzymes during the winemaking process, with only a light filtration and a small addition of sulphur added as a preservative prior to bottling.
And A Few Prayers To Mother Nature- 2022/2023 Growing Season
The 2022 Winter was slightly warmer than the previous years and we also saw less rainfall. Keeping all of this in mind our farm manager (Christiaan Loots) started to implement minimum tilling in the vineyard, packing more mulch in between the vines, adding biochar and experimenting with interesting cover crops.
All with the aim of improving the soil health by promoting more beneficial microbial growing conditions, retaining moisture, keeping the soil cooler and adding natural forms of nitrogen. In the last 3 years he has taken the percentage of carbon matter from 1% in some block to 4%.
With the slightly warmer Winter conditions we were surprised by an earlier budburst as well as flowering. We were lucky to not experience strong winds during the growing period which helped to have an even fruit set.
The growing season took an interesting turn during the second week of December with heavy rainfall. The team had to be on a close watch of the vineyard to make sure that we avoid any mildew.
Verasion was a week or so earlier and even due to the additional rainfall. We assumed that the harvest would then also start earlier but with the rest of the growing season being moderate to cool we only really got into the full swing of harvest form the second week of February.
The harvest was complicated a bit more with heavy rain falling toward the end of February. Luckily by this time we had already harvested all our white varietals and only had a few blocks of red left. We waited a week for the vineyard to utilize the excess water but it did help us to achieve good phenolic ripeness on the later red varietals. In the end a blessing from Mother nature!
Interesting enough we saw more bunches this year but smaller berries. The whites were up a little bit in yield and the reds were similar to 2022. The quality looks great with a lot of concentration and optimal acid levels.
A Tasting Note from The Glass of Nadia Langenegger
Sauvignon Blanc is very versatile and also shows distinct terroir characteristics. In this wine, the Schapenberg comes through, showing freshness mineral tones accompanied by stone fruits, gooseberries and lime notes. The palate is elegant, refined and lingers well on the aftertaste. I enjoy this wine on its own and it also pairs perfectly with crayfish on the grill- drizzled with butter and lime.
The Numbers (47 000 bottles produced)
RS: 3 g/l
TA: 5.7 g/l