Joostenberg organic winery, located between Stellenbosch and Paarl, has a rich culture, a passion for authenticity and sense of history that transcends five generations. The farm was established by a Swedish settler in the late 1600s and was purchased by the Myburgh family in 1879, where ownership has remained ever since.
The family practices traditional mixed farming, which yields organic wine, seasonal cut flowers, herbs and vegetables. They also keep a free range cattle herd. Their offerings include a deli, pork specialist butchery, bistro, events venue and Stellies Taproom. The cosy Cape Dutch Style accommodation and their increasingly popular Annual Family Day (as well as other regular events) makes this vineyard worth a visit.
Joostenberg winemaking philosophies are based upon keeping the earth as pure and undisturbed as possible. The vineyards are farmed organically in order to minimise outside influences like pesticides and fertilizers on the grapes and some vineyards are even dry-farmed (with no irrigation) in the belief that the addition of irrigation water modifies the soil.
Organic farming methods encourage practices that increase the fertility and vitality of the soil and life forms that live in and around it. Pests struggle to become dominant in a biodiverse environment that supports a large population of species.
To achieve biodiversity, organic farmers often introduce cover crops to provide a habitat for beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of problem species, or have small livestock graze between the vine rows, eating the grass and weeds. In this way, the vineyard becomes a self-regulating, natural ecosystem, able to combat problems intrinsically. This eliminates the need for artificial chemicals.
The main difference with organic winemaking is that the allowable sulphur dioxide levels are about 40% lower than conventional wines. Other differences include the prohibition of processes such as juice concentration and alcohol removal. Also, the use of certain commonly used winemaking additives are not allowed such as di-ammonium phosphate (used as a yeast nutrient) and polyvinyl polypyrrolidone or PVPP (used to remove colour compounds from white wines).
Generally, you will not be able to taste the difference between organically and conventionally made wine. Joostenberg however believes that the taste of their own wine has significantly improved since converting to organic farming.
IS ORGANIC WINE HEALTHIER?
Sadly no. Just because a wine is organic doesn’t mean that it is healthier for you. The environment is certainly in much better health, than if it was sprayed with poisons, and the grapes certainly taste better, meaning that in the hands of a skilled winemaker, the wine can definitely taste better. Organic wine however still contains alcohol, which, of course, is harmful in excessive amounts.
DO ORGANIC WINES RESULT IN LESS HANGOVERS?
As mentioned above, organic wine contains a lot less sulphur dioxide which is said to contribute towards hangovers. But don’t overdo it – hangovers can also occur from dehydration, the presence of histamines in the grapes’ skins and unbalanced blood sugar levels. Drinking organic wine won’t guarantee a headache-free morning after.
The small percentage of people who are sensitive to sulphites will certainly benefit from choosing organic wines over conventional wines.
Joostenberg carries a large variety of organic wines, some with names that pay homage to its history, like ‘Die Agteros’, ‘Fairhead’, ‘The Piano Man’, and ‘Bakermat’.
My standout favourites include:
The ‘Fairhead’, honouring the Matriarchs of Joostenberg. This opulent, rich and powerful white blend consists of Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. Always delicious with a curry or even a simple salad.
The ‘Bakermat’, meaning ‘birth-place’ is dedicated to the many generations of the Myburgh family calling Joostenberg, ‘home’. Bakermat with dark berry and savoury aromas, is a flavourful red blend, consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Touriga Nacional. Simply put it is soul food and always good down to its last drop!
‘Family Blend’ is a ripe, earthy, medium-bodied red blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Viognier. Red blends tend to work well with most meal options because of the well-rounded fruit, herb and spice flavours. Personally, I feel a cheese board would do just fine.
For more information on Joostenberg wine and to see their full range, check out their website http://joostenberg.co.za.
Candice is the founder of The Drinks Company in Johannesburg, which provides sales, marketing and distribution services to the food and beverage industry. You can contact her on [email protected]
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