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Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied

Johan Reyneke would be the first to admit that his first attempt at organic viticulture did not go well.

“It was an absolute disaster!” smiles Johan, one bright winter’s morning, standing beside a row of old vines. With his vineyard soon plagued by pests and disease, he realised that he needed to be “organic by design, not organic by neglect”.

It was a pivotal moment, but that was nearly 20 years ago. In the years since, Reyneke Organic has evolved into one of South Africa’s leading biodynamic and organic cellars. Little wonder that around 80% of his wines are snapped up overseas.

“Conventional farming is very effective, it makes farming a lot easier, but it comes at a price,” says Johan. “We have to ask questions about the sustainability of it all.”

Sustainability is key to his approach to biodynamic and organic wine farming, and while he is the custodian of 120ha of the Polkadraai Hills, not all of it is planted with vineyards.

“In nature, you get stability through diversity,” he explains, as his herd of Nguni cattle rumble past. Across the farm, the pastures, cattle, chickens – and even weeds – have a role to play. “You have to stop fighting nature, and work with it.” That extends to the cellar, where winemaker Rudiger Gretschel pays careful attention to letting the grapes
– and their organic, biodynamic vineyards – shine through.

The organic range may be the entry-level offering, but certainly over-delivers on quality. Alongside a bright and fruit-forward blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the Syrah is superb, and excellent value. Also look out for new additions to the range, including a 100% Chenin Blanc and an approachable Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend.

There’s a noticeable step up to the biodynamic range, and the old-vine Chenin Blanc sourced from old vineyards is particularly good. If it’s Syrah you’re after, splurge on the Reserve Red. Made from 100% Syrah, it’s not cheap, but it’s a wine that wouldn’t look out of place in France’s Rhône valley.

Reyneke Wines
021 881 3451

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