The Nederburg team has learned that regenerative viticulture helps to enrich the soil, aerate it, improve its structure, and increase its water-holding capacity. Building biodiversity helps to fix nitrogen in the soil and aid carbon sequestration. Insectary florae attract bees and other beneficial insects that eat the harmful ones. It’s part of its integrated pest management programme. 

The focus is on holistic, low-intervention farming in the pursuit of creating a more resilient terroir for the farm, where ultimately healthier vines will lead to even better wines and inputs such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can be curtailed, if not altogether eliminated.

The Paarl winery also makes biochar (charcoal from plant matter) and mixes it with compost from grape skins, stems, pips, as well as other organic waste, and recycled water. The mix is then inoculated with nutrients and beneficial organisms. It improves soil life and health and speeds up carbon sequestration.    

Asked if Nederburg considers itself an early adopter of such eco-conscious measures, its agriculture specialist, Henk van Graan, shrugs. “Environmental stewardship has always been a priority for us. In 2011, we were acknowledged for our efforts as a Biodiversity Champion by the WWF for our work to rehabilitate parts of our farmland to indigenous habitat with the re-establishment of local flora, and more recently, in 2020, we achieved WWF Conservation Champion status for water conservation. But it goes back much earlier. Nederburg was also involved in the piloting of the country’s Integration Production of Wine programme in 1998. Now followed by virtually all South African producers, it encompasses a set of eco-sustainability principles to which growers must adhere.

“It’s a way of life for us. We’ve been at it a long time, finding new ways as we go.”