The living body is the best pharmacy ever devised… it is able to produce everything manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, but it makes them much, much better. The dosage is always right, it is always given on time, side effects are minimal or non-existent and the directions for using it are always included in the chemical/drug itself as part of its built in intelligence.
All we, as temporary caretakers of our bodies, need to do is…observe, monitor and give correct, natural nutrition when necessary ie. introduce the correct tools to allow the body to function properly.
The people at Avondale treat the environment in exactly the same way and after spending a few hours on the farm it becomes clear that this farm is a living embodiment of this ethos.
It is a robust, diverse, flourishing and sustainable eco-system that takes one’s breath away.
As Johnathan Grieve, viticulturist and general manager of Avondale, says, “We didn’t go the organic and biodynamic route to be certified and jump on the green bandwagon, we did it because it’s the right thing to do.”
He has coined the term BioLOGIC® – a unique mix of organic and biodynamic farming methods combined with the latest advances in modern science with the proviso that organic/biodynamic comes above all else and the use of science is merely to compliment and provide added information to the aforementioned principles.
The latest advances in modern science are used to get continuous feedback about the health of the Avondale ecosystem and includes inter alia:
- A continuous logging moisture probe system that measures the moisture in the different soils at three levels and radios this information to their computer. This enables them to meet the irrigation needs of different blocks of vines timeously, and with precision and efficiency hence saving water.
- use of a weather station for disease forecasting so that they are able to take preventative action through natural nutrition in the face of potential threats.
- Use of sophisticated plant sap reading technology that allows them to ‘hear’ their vines and better understand what is happening in their particular soil that ensures they can respond quickly and accurately to the nutritional status of their vines.
In essence, the science and technology they use gives them the privilege of being part of an intimate, information-rich and satisfyingly interactive relationship with their own environment and is a systemic approach to continuously create conditions that are conducive to more and more life.
At Avondale they don’t look on weeds as enemies…they’re considered part of the bigger system and serve as important indicators of soil deficiencies. Amend the soil deficiency and the conditions are no longer conducive for the growth of that particular plant or weed – a great example of the analogy to the human body above…fix the cause and not the symptom, which sadly the western medical fraternity seems to have forgotten to a large extent.
The measure of the robustness of any ecosystem can be found in its biodiversity. Multitudes of life forms reduce vulnerability, protect the ecosystem from shocks and enable it to restore and regenerate more quickly.
Besides the diverse indigenous vegetation that can be found on the farm the land also supports a variety of naturally occurring birds, amphibians, reptiles and small and larger mammals including Black Eagles, Spotted Eagle Owls, Cape Foxes, Grysbok, Steenbok, Red Caracal, Porcupine and Spotted Genets. All are testimony to the health of the environment.
It is truly a paradise for all flora and fauna living on the farm.
Avondale was one of the first South African wine producers to be awarded the Biodiversity in Wine certification.
Along with the above certification Avondale has the following accreditations:
- Organic certification(Control Union) since 2003 – making it one of the oldest organic vineyards in SA
- Member of Linking Environment and Farming(LEAF) a non profit organisation which promotes environmentally friendly farming
- Member of SEDEX – Supplier Ethical Data Exchange
- Member of IPW – Integrated Production of Wine which is a voluntary environmental sustainability scheme.
As one can see from the above these guys are serious about the environment…no green washing here!
Now…on to their Wines
Avondale produces a range of 7 premium wines ranging in price from around R120 to just under R300. Each one named after a term reflecting its unique offering and the individual story it tells (all stars given are per John Platter Wine Guide 2012):
- Armilla – [Rating: 3.5] Methode Cap Classique – 100% Chardonnay – In reference to their use of biodynamic principles is a celestial globe consisting of metal hoops used by early astronomers to determine the position of the stars.
- Anima – [Rating:3.5] Chenin 100% meaning vital life force or true inner soul
- Cyclus – [Rating:4]A particular favourite of mine is a Viognier led blend that means a complete recurring circle or vortex reflecting the elegant way that Avondale’s unique life energy swirls through its invigorating layers.
- Camissa – [Rating: 3] Khoi San name for Table Mountain, meaning “place of sweet water” a reflection of Avondale’s gratitude for the blessing of having pure spring waters flowing to their vines.
- Samsara – [Rating: 4] 100% Syrah means ‘to flow on’ and pass through the states of life and death. It represents the perpetual renewal and revitalisation of Avondale’s living system.
- La Luna – [Rating: 4] A bordeaux blend reflecting the graceful ways that Avondale is attuned to cosmic influences and rhythms
- Navitas – [Rating: 4] A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache reflecting Avondale’s unique energy, luminescence and character.
All their wines are made according to “Slow Wine Making” practices which ensures that by the time they reach you, the wine-lover, they are already accessible and delicious, with enough structure and character to enjoy a long life in the bottle.
Waste Water System
Avondale has devised their own waste water system which mimics the way nature cleans water. This is a system of three dams interlinked by spiraling channels of cleansing reeds that replicates a natural river system and by the time the waste water reaches the 3rd dam it is superbly purified. It is a wonderfully simple yet highly effective natural, closed-nutrient cycle that yields quality water from waste which they then use for irrigation.
If you enjoy exploring the winelands and wine-making, Avondale offers a truly unique Eco Tour experience which takes you on a wonderful journey throughout the beautiful farm. Highly informative, the Eco Tour highlights the remarkable ways that Avondale produces their beautifully crafted wines approved by Mother Nature.
The tour starts with a welcome at the Tasting Gallery where you can enjoy a glass of Avondale’s gorgeous, biscuity Methode Cap Classique. Guests are then taken on a vineyard tour where you witness and learn more about their unique and pioneering ways of farming in harmony with nature the BioLOGIC® way. You will see how their ethos “Terre est Vita – Soil is life” is put into practice. You enjoy further tastings of their other wines right in the particular vineyard blocks where the grapes were grown.
Eco Tours include a visit to the state-of-the-art gravity flow cellar, constructed three storeys underground in the cool depths of a natural dry river bed which ensures that the grapes are moved with the minimum of mechanical intervention.
The tour concludes with a return to the Tasting Gallery where you can relax and enjoy the view, or browse the latest artworks on exhibition. Currently there is a Tim Gibson photographic exhibition called Nature of Africa.
They cater for each tour individually, and to ensure that you get the best of the Avondale Experience, all Eco Tours are by appointment only and cost R200 per person. Well worth it!
Avondale also runs a Creche and after care centre for the children of all the people who live and work on the farm where they are fed 3 meals a day.
Truly a unique farm with unique wines for those who believe that mother nature is as perfect as it can get.
In conjunction with Avondale we are offering a reader an Eco-tour for 2 people to the value of R400.
What you have to do is share this article via one of the social media tools below and then answer a simple question:
In what year was Avondale certified organic?
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Entries close on Wednesday 29 February and the winner will be announced on Thursday 01 March.
Happy, Healthy Living All