Waverley Hills

Congratulations to Edgar Wolf from Milnerton who has won the mixed case of  organic wines from Waverley Hills including a bottle of their Cap Classique.

Well done!

Happy, healthy and responsible drinking to you Edgar!

I sit here writing this article with a glass of Wedderwill Sauvignon Blanc 2007(which is drinking magnificently at the moment) wondering why these natural wines are struggling to sell in South Africa.

Last week I attended the Nedbank Green Wine Awards Ceremony at the Mount Nelson in Cape Town.

The awards were a very stylish affair and it was a quintessentially glorious Cape Town summer afternoon. Canapes were served in the garden while the best red(Laibach’s The Ladybird Red 2010), and best white (Reyneke Chenin 2010) winners were announced accompanied by perfectly chilled glasses of the Reyneke Chenin and interestingly, a Waverley Hills Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc.

It was notable that the Waverley Hills Sem/Sauv. was the only wine served at these awards that was not a winner and we discovered later that it was the joint 2nd highest wine scored overall. In fact it came very close to being the winner in the best white wine category.

Other winners were Stellar Heaven on Earth for the Best Natural Sweet and the Best Environmental Practice Award went to Paul Cluver in Elgin.

Before moving into the Planet Restaurant for lunch and the announcement of the Best Wine Overall winner, the exec. chef Rudy Liebenberg spoke to us about how he designed the menu for the day based on the winning wines being served and also gave us an informative rundown of the sustainability of the ingredients sourced and used.(watch this space for more on Rudy and the Planet Restaurant)

Appetites suitably whet, both for the food to come and the announcement of the Best Wine Overall winner, we moved inside and took our places at our designated tables. Our table was made up of myself, my colleague Oliver Bauer and an assortment of wine journalists and marketers.

We sat down to a great meal, accompanied by the Ladybird Red, while speeches were made and the Best Wine Overall winner (Reyneke Chenin 2010) was announced. It is now the 2nd year running that Reyneke has won the Best Wine Overall Award and he is obviously now the top exponent of his trade in this country. Well done to Johan and also well done to the team at Laibach who have been knocking on the door and even been slightly unlucky at these awards for the last couple of years now.

If there was a winery of the year award based on number of wines entered scoring 3 stars or more it would have gone to Reyneke which scored 1 x 4 star, 1 x 3½ star and 5 x 3 stars…more than double anyone else. This is maybe something that could be considered going forward as this type of award does appear in other competitions.

Two points were made during the speeches that were of interest to me and the main reason for this article…the first one, made by Christian Eedes, who voiced a concern over the lack of growth of entries into the competition since its inception.

There are a couple of reasons which I am going to touch on as to why this could be…the first one being the slight controversy last year over one of the judges on the tasting panel being involved with the eventual winner Reyneke Woolworths Chenin 2009. I am sure that this did not influence the decisions made, but I do know that there was some outcry over this as one should not only be independent but, more importantly one should be seen by others to be independent, especially when it comes to awards. I know that the intention of these awards and of the people involved are good however and I am sure that this slight blip will not re-occur in the future.

I do think that a winery of the year award as discussed above would also encourage more producers to enter more of their wines into the competition.

Happily there are a number of wineries that are in the process of certification over the coming 12 – 18 months and this should bump up the number of entries quite nicely.

The other issue discussed how well the ‘natural’ wine movement is doing overseas compared to here in South Africa and this is something I feel very strongly about. It seems that there is a bit of a backlash from South African consumers regarding organically grown and produced products in this country which is even more pronounced in the wine industry. The use of the word ‘organic’ in branding is almost a double edged sword these days and Waverley Hills has even resorted to removing this word from the front label of their wines after sales dipped when it was prominently displayed. This is a sad indictment as to the level of knowledge of the average South African consumer as regards the benefits to the environment, our health and more importantly to the wine itself!

People in this country seem to think that organic wine is somehow inferior to conventional wine when, if one took the time to understand what the term really means, this is impossible to be so. Organic or ‘natural’ wines reflect greater individuality and variety because producers allow the terroir to reflect its true essence due to minimal intervention(no pesticides or chemicals) and the inherent robustness of the meso-climate of a natural vineyard. It all then comes down to the talent of the winemaker as to how good the wine is actually going to be.

As Michel Chapoutier(stellar biodynamic winemaker in France) says quite beautifully, and I quote…”on the vine you create the ladder which the winemaker then climbs, but you cannot go higher than the ladder itself”. Organic and biodynamic vineyard practices should by their inherent nature lead to higher ladders.

Notice that I am using the term ‘natural’ rather than ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ and will be doing so more and more in the future as I feel that this term could potentially be the catalyst for changing the consumers perception regarding these unique and expressive wines. Why?

Replacing the word organic or biodynamic with the term ‘natural’ on the labels should allow the following to happen:

  • Informed consumers will continue purchasing the wines as they already know if a wine is organically produced or not(merely include the term in the fine print on the back label),
  • Ordinary consumers, with these unfounded but very real misconceptions, will not be scared off by the term organic and in fact should be attracted to these ”natural’ wines.

The term organic should not be used as a marketing tool or trick as this is just not sustainable or viable at the moment in this country.

Happy, healthy and responsible  eating and drinking to you all.


R46 betw. Tulbagh & Ceres,

Wolseley, Western Cape

GPS: 33 24′ 19.91″ S 19 14′ 20.24″ E

Tel: 023 231 0002


At last…an organic vineyard that produces great value for money organic wines!

Due to the (initial)extra expense of going organic, many organic wines produced in this country are out of reach of the average consumer.

Waverley Hills is an exception to this in that their wines range in price from R45 to R75 per bottle. A large part of this is due to the fact that the farm was started on ‘virgin’ soil(being previously untouched by man) and hence there being no 3-4 year conversion period for it to be certified organic…ie. they could be classified organic almost immediately based on their farming practices.

Waverley Hills Estate is situated between Tulbagh and Ceres, at the foothills of the breathtaking Witzenberg Mountain Range. The area is renowned for its diverse fynbos, giving their wines a unique fynbos characteristic.

It is owned by Brenn-O-Kem, a company which processes the waste and by-products of the SA wine industry in an environmentally friendly manner and transforms them into finished products used by inter alia the wine and pharmaceutical industries.

In 2000, they decided to enter the organic wine market and since then a total of 30ha of vineyards and olive groves have been planted and cultivated organically producing wines with a unique style, extremely smooth with soft ripe tannins and robust fynbos characteristics. They also produce a range of organic olive and olive oil products. In fact if you have ever bought the Pick n Pay house label organic olive oil chances are it will be from Waverley Hills.

All their wines contain 50% less sulphur than conventional wines and… for anyone with sulphur allergies out there…your prayers have been answered as a new addition, a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon with no added sulphur has just been added to the range. This is a first that I have come across in the Western Cape. This wine is recommended to keep chilled and enjoyed immediately due to its lack of preservatives.

They do a variety of wines(about 8 in total – red and white) to cater for all tastes, some of the more notable being:

  • Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2009 for which they were awarded not only a gold medal at the prestigious Challenge International du Vin in Bordeaux, France but they also snatched the Best Organic Wine – Southern Hemisphere.
  • a Shiraz 2009 – which was the only organic wine to win a gold at the Veritas Awards earlier this year.
  • the first organic Cap Classique that we have come across in our search, which is very popular. Current vintage being sold out with the new vintage being released at end November.
  • Semillon/Sauvignon 2010 for which they obtained the 2nd highest score at 2012 Nedbank Green Wine Awards

Over and above their organic farming practices Waverley Hills is also a farm with a conscience and with this in mind the following initiatives have been put into place:

  1. Over the past 5 years, only 15 flagship South African wine estates have achieved the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) Champion status. Waverley Hills is proud to be the first organic wine producer to achieve this status.
  2. Waverley Hills has been the winner of the Best Of Wine Tourism Award for - Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices in 2011 and 2012…2 years in a row.
  3. Green Fingers Initiative – Witzenberg Eco Centre
    • In 2008 they realised that there was a void in their conservation strategy. Based on the fact that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, a committee was formed to run an Eco-centre based at Waverley Hills in collaboration with Cape Nature, the Education Sector, the local Municipalities and the Department of Agriculture.
    • Formed in 2009 and launched in 2010 the aim of project is to provide children with a sense of pride of where they live and to create a greener environment by providing the local community with a venue where environmental programmes can be facilitated from.
    • The program is geared towards the Grade 5 and Grade 6 school curriculum and to the environmental nature calendar.  Seven schools within the Witzenberg District were selected involving over 1000 children per stage, all from different cultural groups.

As we can see these guys are serious about the environment and put their money where their mouth is.

The wine tasting area is equally impressive with stunning views of the surrounding area and contains:

  1. a deli which sells a variety of olive products as well as an interesting assortment of other farm based items such as organic grape seed extract and wine jelly.
  2. a restaurant which uses only the freshest ingredients sourced from local producers, along with organic products from the farm whenever possible.
  3. They also cater for weddings, private functions, conferences, birthday parties etc.

I am very excited to be able to offer one of our readers a 6 bottle mixed case of Waverley Hills wines which will include a bottle of the soon to be released organic bubbly! A first for our site.

Summer is now here…a perfect time for sipping some organic bubbly at one of the many festive events taking place.

To be eligible to win please share this article and then answer the question below:

Which of the Waverley Hills Wines was the only organic wine to be awarded a gold medal at this year’s Veritas Awards?

Current subscribers can answer by emailing randal@greggsplatter.co.za with the answer.

Remember only subscribers can enter so if you are not one yet please click on this link to subscribe and answer.

Closing date for entries is Tuesday 22 November 2011 and draw will take place on Wednesday 23 November.