Sawubona gets to know more about winemaker at Waverley Hills, Johan Delport, and the organic production that this estate has committed to.
How did you find yourself at Waverley Hills?
I always had a love for agriculture and creating things. Making wine is the ideal combination of these passions. I worked my way up through the wine industry, like all other ambitious winemakers. Then the opportunity at Waverley Hills came along and I couldn’t resist it.
How do you know when you’ve produced an excellent vintage?
The best way to experience it is by walking through the vineyards when the grapes are in the process of ripening and regularly tasting the grapes and the progression of ripeness. You just get a feeling, by tasting the flavours, that those grapes will turn into great wines.
Waverley Hills has embraced organic production – why the organic focus?
The owners have been in the recycling business for more than four decades, so it was just natural to go organic. And it’s the right thing to do for the environment. It also gives you a bit of an advantage in the market.
What organic techniques are used and what effect does this have on the wine?
We only use natural products on the farm, to enhance the resistance of the plants against diseases. No chemicals are used. The same is true for the winemaking process. This gives the wine a much more natural and purer taste than wines made with artificial additives. You can taste the grapes in organic wines!
What does your average day entail?
Planning is very important, especially with organic farming. You have to make sure that every step you take is in accordance with our organic certification. You cannot make a mistake, because you don’t have the luxury of using any remedial chemicals. There is no back door in organic winemaking. Unfortunately, admin and record holding takes a lot of time as well. This is essential for our organic certification. With the time that’s left in the day, I make sure to attend to and taste my wines.
Your ducks have become a prominent feature of the estate – what role do they play?
They are our colleagues that keep the pests away and the vineyards clear of the bad insects. They do, however, need a lot of babysitting too, so that they’re safe from the rooikatte!
What are some of your favourite Waverley Hills vintages?
2009 and 2011 were very good. Also 2015, although most of the 2015 red wines are still maturing and have not been released yet. The 2015 wines do show exceptional promise though.
What are some of your favourite parts of the Waverley Hills estate?
I love to take the hiking trail with my family – it’s always fun. I also like spending time in the cellar after hours, to taste through my wines uninterrupted.
What do you love most about the Tulbagh region?
Tulbagh produces some of the greatest wines in the country and it’s tucked away from the rushing crowds. I love the laid-back lifestyle of this region, not to mention that it’s little more than an hour from Cape Town.