Headed by high-flying winemaker Eben Sadie, who first came to prominence working at Spice Route with Charles Back, in his beloved Swartland, where he has just seven hectares of vines. Eben left Charles Back in 2000 and worked in some of the great vineyard regions of the world as he pursued his ideal of making wines with a genuine sense of where they come from.
The vineyards are situated in the delightfully named Aprilskloof, in the Paardeberg near Malmesbury. Gradual but determined conversion to biodynamics has been the goal here, with respect for the vineyards and their potential being the driving force behind the ideal. Yields are low and grapes are picked by hand into small trays, then sorted (with debris, dense bunches, and raisined fruit removed) and cooled.
Vinification takes place in a small, unassuming whitewashed stone cellar in the Paardeberg foothills, literally a stone’s throw from Lammershoek. Stems are removed and the cooled grapes are cold soaked prior to basket pressing before native yeasts carry out the fermentation in wooden, open topped vats. All the work in the winery is done by hand and gravity, in accordance with Eben’s philosophy that he should interfere as little as possible, and certainly less mechanically, in the process. His job is to get everything right in the vineyard so that what happens in the cellar can be as natural as possible.
The result is that he makes some of South Africa’s finest and most sought-after wines, such as the unfined, unfiltered syrah and mourvédre blend, Columella, and the Rhône-like white Palladius.