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Conversation focus for WWF Champions in the South African Winelands

13 September 2018  -  Judy Brower -

There are a number of wine farms who take conservation really seriously, some of whom are World Wildlife (WWF) Conservation Champions

Backsberg was the first wine farm to be carbon neutral in South Africa (back in 2006 already) and is also proud to be a WWF Conservation Champion, alongside Cederberg, Gabrielskloof, Lourensford, Cloof, Wildekrans and Vondeling, all of whom hosted a tasting and foraged breakfast up in the Backsberg vineyards on Monday 10th Sept.

This week is Cape Wine 2018, and of course the winelands are awash with eager importers, restaurateurs, buyers, agents, distributors and WOSA International Market managers.
I was lucky enough to start my week with a group of the international trade, starting the day at 6 degrees and by 10.30am was already a gloriously warm 20 degrees!
The views across the Paarl valley, vineyards and the far flung snow-capped mountains were stunning.

The delicious foraged breakfast was prepared by Wildekrans' Chef Gregory Henderson and his enthusiastic staff. No small feat to feed a big group up in the vineyards which included indigenous kolbroek belly bacon, geranium and apple slaw, soft poached franklin eggs with hollandaise sauce and waterblommetjie soup with wild sorghum sprinkle and wood sorrel.  His restaurant on the Wildekrans Wine Estate in Bot River is aptly named Forage, and he speaks very passionately about the staff he is training, who now really understand and appreciate the flora and fauna which surround them.

On arrival, we encountered Gregory's enthusiastic staff members Clyde and Valentine, who were picking some leafy greens for our breakfast, which most of us think are just weeds!  I am very keen to learn more about this foraging.

Look out for the Protea & Sugarbird insignia, denoting a WWF Conservation Champion - wineries achieving a higher than 70% score for their IPW (Integrated Production of Wine), amongst many other achievements.
More than 95% of South African Wineries use the unique Seal of Approval by the IPW, which guarantees not only for the integrity of origin and/or vintage year and/or cultivar, but also for sustainable production and traceability up to product level.


A beautiful morning at Backsberg

Backsberg has had Michael Back as its champion now for many years, and he is still as passionate as ever, regaling us with stories of his shirt which he has re-collared 3 times, towels which don't need to be massive (thus saving material and water for washing), and looking at every activity on the farm, making us all very aware that everything we do has an impact on the earth and we really need to take a leaf from their approach as they learn.  Their PET Wine bottle brand, ''Tread Lightly" has been discontinued and being replaced by a new range (currently only for export) which is labelled 'Tree-Free'. This wine is in lightweight glass weighing only 455g per bottle and the label is made from 95% recycled sugarcane waste and 5% hemp and linen. I look forward to seeing this brand and glad that there is less plastic around too.

Michael is very clear that education needs to happen to ensure people know what to do about conserving their environment.