By Jaco Engelbrecht | www.visualviticulture.co.za
So we where off to our final stop – a bizarre vineyard on the West Coast, planted in what seems to be a flattened sand dune…
I first laid eyes on this vineyard back in 2010, when I was still the viticulturist at Darling Cellars. Abé Beukes (then Cellarmaster at Darling) and myself was asked to come and assist with some vineyards on the West Coast at a farm called Brakkuil. The call out was to help with trellised Sauvignon blanc and Shiraz, but little did we know that we would set eyes on a piece of South African history…
What we found was large, tree like vines, some tall, some with massive, thick trunks. This was the first time I really saw old vines. There where no official record on these vines. I have never even heard of Barbarossa back then. It wasn’t even on the official variety list anymore. How could it be that this was just forgotten about? Where did the grapes go to for all these years?
Searching for Barbarossa yesterday to refresh my memory on the variety, I actually came across an old blog I used to write, and what do you know, my love for documenting vineyards actually came in handy! This is the original post after this particular visit – Part of History
Back in 2010 I realized the importance of these vineyards for the South African Wine Industry. Sadly, after my departure, the farm wasn’t visited again, and most of the vines where pulled out, except for one younger block of Barbarossa (around 60 years old), now safely in the hands of Adi Badenhorst since 2013, in the form of AA Badenhorst, Brakkuil Barbarossa.
Like all things in life, this amazing trip too had to come to an end. This is hopefully just the beginning to discovering old vineyards in South Africa, and to document them. Thanks to all the farmers who welcomed us with open arms and warm hearts. Thanks for all the cups of rooibos tea we enjoyed so much. Thanks for working hard to keep these vines healthy and producing. Thanks to the winemakers and wineries who believe in the protection and preservation of old vineyards, and the quality they produce. And thank you to everyone who reads my blog – I hope you will follow our cause closely and be part in our ultimate effort to save the old vineyards of South Africa.
Jaco Engelbrecht is a passionate viticulturist based in the Coastal Region of South Africa. He has been a viticulturist for nine years and have since consulted more than a hundred wine producers and been involved on even more wine farms.