Wine is an extension of nature. The more natural your environment, the truer the wine to its place of origin.
A winemaker is only the custodian of the vineyard’s offering. The more aligned that vineyard is to its natural surroundings, the more in-synch with the unique flora and fauna the greater the resulting wine’s trueness to expressing its unique sense of place. As pioneers of conservation in South African with over 1 000ha hectares a conservation wilderness area, Paul Clüver Family Wines has a non-negotiable approach in allowing its conservation ethos to be reflected in the way it farms its vineyards ensuring an expression of true terroir in its wines.
With a history of farming on De Rust Estate since 1896, the Clüver family has always placed a premium on the environment and the health of the soils on the areas under agriculture. As far as the vineyards are concerned, since the first plantings in 1987 the primary aim was to ensure optimal soil health for the total life-cycle of the vine as wine quality depends on this.
When it comes to adding fertiliser to the soil the nutrient-levels are measured. This ensures that only those areas requiring additional nutrients receive fertiliser. Thus, the nutrient depleted areas are “fed”, while areas within the vine with the desired levels of nutrients receive less or no fertiliser.
Cover-crops receive top-priority in the vineyards. Here a diversity of cover-crops are planted to ensure that their carbon uptake from the environment is spread evenly throughout the soil. Diverse cover-crops – ranging from grasses to legumes – are planted, the diversity ensuring the cover-crops have varying root-lengths to action optimal nitrogen compounding and distribution in the soils. For example, rye – one of the cover-crops planted between the vines – has a shallow root structure which will draw carbon into soil parts just below the surface. Radishes, another cover-crop planted on Paul Clüver Family Wines’ vineyards, has a deeper root-structure ensuring the carbon capture and nitrogen conversion take place deeper down beneath the earth.
Over half of De Rust Estate’s 2 400ha – wherein Paul Clüver Family Wines is situated – is a natural conservancy with official conservation status. The indigenous and unique flora and fauna of this area on Elgin’s Groenlandberg are protected in a conservation partnership between Paul Clüver and Cape Nature. As part of Paul Clüver’s rehabilitation of indigenous vegetation, over 800 endemic trees have been planted. The farm is actively involved in removing invasive alien plants and has created ecological corridors that run between the farm and the mountain. These ecological corridors sustain rare indigenous floral species within the Cape fynbos kingdom as well as numerous birds and mammals, and as a UNESCO heritage site the area enjoys official conservation status – all this on the property of Paul Clüver.
Together with the focus on regenerative agriculture among the vineyards, this area under conservation makes Paul Clüver Family Wines one of South Africa’s most renowned farms committed to and practicing sustainability.