If you’re making one barrel of wine you can do it quietly behind Sam’s cottage, like your 16-year old former self hiding cherry tobacco rollies from your folks. But when you’ve secured grapes from six enviable sites all over the Cape, you need a new tent.
A little research suggested that there was no longer any wyn being made in Wynberg. This was a travesty that we took upon ourselves to resolve.
Oh and there were eight of us now. We'd invited a few friends to join the cast and hired the interested ones immediately. Dave, Dan(2), Dom and Ryan all brought something different to the party, but “I don't have enough time in the day” and “a tendency to overcommit” were universal requirements.
Of course there was no time to waste, the 2020 harvest beginning mid-January with the collection of some organic Verdelho.
What did we know about Verdelho? Not a whole lot, other than the wonderful Momento Chenin Verdelho blend, and Guillaume Nell’s lovely debut Lysa Verdelho. He arranged half a ton for us, and we agreed to produce something extraordinary.
Ironically it was our limitations that would hold us to that promise. Without a cold room, a steel tank, or any filtration equipment, our hand was forced; we would be fermenting the grapes on their skins and extracting every bit of colour, texture and tannin. And if the air-con didn't work, we'd extract a bit more.
We would end up with an Orange wine, forcing us to front up to some of the difficult questions still plaguing the industry:
Is it ok to like Orange wine?
Is it ok to make Orange wine?
If yes: is it ok to make it if you don’t live in Riebeek Kasteel?
Is it technically even wine?
Does that technically even matter?
Is it just me or is that Aperol Spritz?, and
Is there a local importer of Radikon?
We were just happy to be part of the conversation. Except for Dan. Dan fucking hated the conversation.
The Circus equipment was still what you might call primitive. Harvest was gaining momentum, and week after week we’d take the truck and trailer somewhere new to begin the cycle again. Our ornamental basket press was about to receive a timely upgrade.
Spirits were further raised when Butch pulled through with some glorious Swartland Caviar. Ever the contrarian, he had taken to that name now that “Chenin Blanc” was finally on everyone else’s lips.
Swartland Caviar - Ridiculous