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#SAgoodwine Conservation on Nederburg earns BWI status for the winery

Nederburg Wines has been granted Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) membership as a result of the eco-sustainability projects undertaken by Nederburg Wine Farms – a group of four farms – as well as the conservation efforts of one of its major suppliers.
In order to earn BWI accreditation, the winery needed to have a minimum of five farms complying with the conservation measures outlined by the organisation that forms part of WWF.

Nederburg, with a capacity to crush 20 000 tons of grapes annually, is not only one of South Africa’s leading wine brands but also exports worldwide.

While the winery has established long-standing relationships with growers across the Cape to source top quality fruit, close to half the grapes used to make Nederburg wines come from its own farms. These are Nederburg itself, located near Paarl; Groenhof in the Koelenhof area of Stellenbosch; Plaisir de Merle in Simondium; and Papkuilsfontein, a dryland farm near Darling. The latter two already have BWI status for setting aside 500 hectares and 150 hectares respectively for conservation. The supplier farm is also based in Darling and has been BWI-accredited for returning tracts of the farm to indigenous habitat.

According to Hannes van Rensburg, group manager of Nederburg Wine Farms, all other suppliers to Nederburg are Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) accredited. “The supply chain has been thoroughly investigated and based on the collective efforts of our own farms and those of our suppliers, Nederburg has now been admitted as a member of BWI.”

He said the Nederburg farm, on which the winery was based and which covered 244 hectares, had very little uncultivated land to return to indigenous vegetation and had therefore focused its efforts on planting spekboom (Portulacaria afra) hedges for their ability to absorb and store carbon in the soil. The plan was also to sow wilde ertjie (Vicia benghalensis) between thespekbome as fodder for the Hereford and Angus cattle on the farm that provided the natural fertiliser for the vineyards. In addition, nitrogen-binding naturalised legumes, planted amongst the intra-vineyard cover crops, were helping to counter nitrogen emissions that contributed to smog and global warming.

The farm also used filtered effluent water from the cellars to irrigate the pastures, as was the case at Plaisir de Merle. In addition, its grape seeds were used to make grape seed oil.

The main thrust on Groenhof had been the clearing of alien vegetation which had not only seen tracts of renosterveld reappear but was also helping to restore the water balance. “With 98% of South Africa’s water resources already fully allocated, there is an urgent need to reduce water usage and to invest in fresh water systems. We know from BWI research that 90% of natural disasters occurring during the 1990s may well have been water-related and that through holistic management of natural systems on wine farms, we can begin to mitigate the impact of climate change. The BWI has demonstrated that by maintaining healthy wetlands and riparian buffers, it is possible to combat erosion, limit flood damage, promote good quality water and even reduce vulnerability to flood and fire damage.”

Van Rensburg added that with the removal of some 18 ha of pines on Plaisir de Merle, water was being saved and indigenous wild olive trees had been established. The farm, stretching from the Simonsberg escarpment virtually to the Berg River down in the valley, supports a rich biodiversity of animal and plant life, while the two rivers on the property harbour indigenous fish species and act as natural corridors for animals from the mountains to the lower-lying land. The fynbos high up on the Simonsberg abounds in protea species.

Indigenous trees and thicket cover the ravines, providing a habitat for the extensive wildlife that ranges from various buck and porcupines to leopards and lynxes. Waterfowl are plentiful as are guinea fowl and pheasants with fish eagles and other birds of prey frequently visiting.

Papkuilsfontein has a large area of Swartland granite renosterveld, a critically endangered vegetation type, which is part of Contreberg on the Darling Hills. Fauna found on the farm include grysbokduiker, caracal, jackal, as well as a wide variety of bird species.

Nederburg’s cellar has also been SGS-accredited to produce organic wines. Some of the vineyards on Papkuilsfontein are farmed organically and are certified as such by SGS.



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