Ezibusisweni Wines

We now sell produce twice a week from our farm office.

As of next week, the 9th of Feb 2016, you can buy a range of our produce at our farm office between 12 and 2pm. Orders must be greater than R600. Once the order has been placed we will email you the invoice and once we have received the money you are welcome to collect. Collection is only on Tuesday and Thursday at the aforementioned times.

You can buy beef, eggs, straw wine, books, bone broth and t-shirts. Prices below. We are selling at Recommended Retail Price as we have no interest in undercutting our retail clients. The meat, bone broth and eggs you can buy from our retail clients but the books, straw wine and t-shirts only from the farm.

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Above is the part of our farm office where you can collect the various goods on offer.

The t-shirts are made with organic cotton (non organic cotton uses 4% of the world’s agricultural land but 24% of the worlds pesticides) and hemp and from these great guys at Hemporium. I managed to get our children to model these t-shirts. There are ladies and gents in a variety of sizes in both labels.

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There are 5 books for sale.

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. This was the book I read in June of 2008 and decided to farm like Joel Salatin. It goes into the world’s food systems and considering eating is an agricultural act we all need to know what happens before we put the food into our mouth.
  2. BioDynamic Wine Demystified by Nicolas Joly. Nicolas Joly is the foremost proselytiser of the BioDynamic farming method. This book is a great introduction to this farming system inspired by Rudolf Steiner. If you are content with the dominant, reductionist, so called scientific dogma that everyone seems to worship today then this book is not for you.
  3. Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon. Sally Fallon runs the Weston A Price foundation. At another time I would like to elaborate on Price’s work but his 10 year travel around the world remains the greatest dietary study ever done. This books inspired our bone broth.
  4. BioDynamic Gardening by Monty Waldin. The erudite Monty Waldin not only has green fingers as is evident from this incredibly informative book, he is a wine master and also has a knack for putting the complexity of BioDynamics into 5 simple reasons why it should be embraced.
  5. New BioDynamic preparations by Hugo Erbe. If you want to take your BioDynamic practices further then this is the book for you. Picture below with the polymath Erbe on the cover.

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Dumisani, who runs our tree team where we have planted 15,500 trees into our shelter belts, is holding up Monty Waldin’s book. Specifically the page where the instructions of how to make the CPP or barrel compost are given in the clear, methodical manner that is the hallmark of this fine book.

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Bone broth is either available in glass or BPA free plastic. Please specify.

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Prices are as follows

Eggs
Eggs – Dozen – Medium 41.30
Eggs – Dozen – Mixed sizes 43.72
Beef
Farmer Angus’ Bone Broth 1L 65.00
Farmer Angus’ Mince 500g 45.14
Farmer Angus’ 100g Pattie Packs 39.40
Farmer Angus’ Boerewors 500g 52.53
Farmer Angus’ 200 gr patty pack 78.80
Farmer Angus’ Biltong 150g 55.84
T-Shirts 220.00
Straw Wine 205.20
Books
BioDynamic Gardening 360.00
Nourishing Broth 445.00
The Omnivore’s Dilemma 360.00
Hugo Erbe’s New BD preparations 400.00
BioDynamic wine demystified 360.00

 

Please email your orders here.

Angus

8 February 2016

 

How we manage the threats to our vines

Hello

The last time I wrote about some of our vineyard management practices was here, in November 2012.

The biggest threat to the health of vines is the leaf roll virus. It is terrible to see a vine that has been infected.

The vector, or carrier, of this virus is the mealy bug.

One of the things we have done is put up hormone disruptors so that the males cannot scent the females.

The most effective way we have found though, is to leave our dandelion plants to grow in the vineyard.

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In the picture above you can see small white spots which are mealy bug eggs. By having dandelion growing in the vines we create a home for the mealy bug. Conventionally the full surface of the vineyard floor is sprayed with a herbicide (mostly the micronutrient chelating carcinogen Glyphosate, which all South Africans consume daily. Click here for more on this). Killing the cover crop means that the mealy bug has to find a home elsewhere which is the vine and then the soil is bare which means it gets 20 Celsius hotter than covered soil which means a stressed plant and more irrigation required.

Other pests in the vines include birds that love to eat the ripe fruit. We have put up a Scarem kite. See the video below. Handheld with my GoPro and unedited as all the videos on this site. Note towards the end of the video how dry it is on the farm. We are having a brutal summer. These kites are up in the BioDynamically managed Ezibusisweni Chenin Blanc vineyard which produces the Chenin Blanc as well as the Straw Wine. This is a dryland vineyard which means it gets no irrigation. Very tough on the plants but the wines show the character of the vine.

You will also note that at the end of the vineyard rows there are yellow flowers. This is fennel which we plant specifically to attract the wasps that parasitise the mealy bug. The picture below shows the fennel in one of our Cabernet Sauvignon blocks.

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Some of our organic farm wines are available at the wine shop our farm, Spier near Stellenbosch.

Angus

24 January 2016

My first white wine. Ezibusisweni Chenin Blanc 2012

 

Hello

Ezibusisweni is the Zulu word for the Place of Blessings.

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This is what the bottle looks like. I have chosen to use the clear glass as I love the colour of the wine. The logo was designed by the amazing team at Aisle B Design studio.

The sketch artist is the same one (Mqhapheli Spephelo Zungu who I wrote about on this blog in my posting on my first dessert wine, The Ezibusisweni 2008 Straw Wine. He and I grew up together on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal that has now become yet another example of failed land restitution in this beloved country. Click here for the blog on this sad tale.) who did the sketch for my straw wine.

Printing is done by the ever reliable team at Collotype.

pre sunrise harvest

It is very important to start harvesting at first light. Once the sun has appeared over those mountains in the background it gets very hot very quickly. Hot grapes lead to, in my experience, a very aggressive fermentation.

perfect bunch

The perfect bunch of Chenin Blanc. A balance between sweetness and acidity. The best description I have heard about drinking Chenin Blanc is that it is like eating ruby grapefruit. It starts off sweet and then the acidity comes through.

You just have to have another sip as we are programmed to want sweetness, especially after having it so suddenly removed by the acidity in the wine. I don’t acid to my wine.

selfie

In addition to orchestrating the growing of the grapes through the season, I also help harvesting. Luckily I was not being paid like the other staff on how many crates I pick. For starters, they don’t stop to take selfies during work.

We apply BioDynamic methods to way this vineyard is managed. More about this, if you are interested, lower down.

more chenin in crate

The grapes are chilled overnight.filling barrels

The grapes are then pressed in the basket press. Hector is standing at the basket press on the right hand side. From there the juice goes into the 500 litre barrel via the white bucket that I am holding. We then leave it to ferment and age for 2 years before adding sulphur just prior to bottling. We don’t do anything else to the wine during this time.

We used to add sulphur as the juice went into barrel but thanks to natural wine guru, Isabelle Legeron, we no longer do this.

It is in a BioDynamic vineyard that the wine is made. The cellar is merely a nursery. This vineyard will, along with Spier’s Estate vineyards get BioDynamically certified in early 2015.

grape waste for compost

What is left in the basket press after we have pressed the juice out we compost and then return this compost to the vineyard.

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After 2 years in barrel we rack the wine into a holding tank and then add mined Sulphur as a preservative. The blue flame above is Sulphur burning in the machine en route into the wine.

This wine is the only wine in this country that contains mined sulphur as I am the only one with this machine. There are some non Sulfite wines. The other sulphur is a petrochemical byproduct.

bubble bubble toil and S

Bubble, bubble, toil and sulphur. Above is a photo of the holding tank immediately after the wine was infused with the mined sulphur. I add 1 gram of Sulphur per hectolitre of wine. Click here for  an excellent article on Sulphur by Nicolas Joly. He also writes a wonderful article on agriculture with the punch line “the taste of truth”.

hamish filling bottles

On the front of the bottle it says handcrafted. Filling the bottles with this filler (one of our sons) is a painstaking job when it is done by hand.

joshua and hector corking

Corking follows bottling and here our youngest has teamed up with Hector to place the corks into each bottle.

corks

Our corks, made by Amorin, look like this. They are fully FSC compliant. The three pointed logo is a copy of an engraving done by Marko Pogacnik, ecologist and geomancer, on our farm many years ago when he did work here.

 

sti sticking stickers

Sti then applies the stickers and we let the wine rest for a few months to get over bottle shock. The bottle I tested this past weekend indicates that the wine is no longer shocked by the bottle.

livio august 2013

The Ezibusisweni vineyard was also the first one in the country that was pruned in the Simonit Sirch method. Here, in July 2013, is Livio instructing our team in this vine life-prolonging pruning method. The return on capital calculation on your vineyard looks completely different if you can get at least another 5 years of life out of your vines thanks to this pruning method. Furthermore your wine gets more interesting with age.

livio and orlando, sept 2014

Livio, with my colleague Orlando, looking happy with the state of his first vineyard a year after he pruned for the first time. At least 7 wine farms have decided that they also want their vines to live longer and now use Livio. He has only been working in South Africa for two seasons.

grade 3 collecting

Every year one of the farming lessons for the Grade 3 pupils from the Stellenbosch Waldorf School takes place in the vineyard where they all harvest a bay. In many years of having them here none of them has cut a finger with the harvest scissors. It must be because of all the various forms of handwork Steiner/Waldorf pupils do.

grade 3 stomping

After harvest the pupils get into the basket press with their grapes and clean feet to stomp the juice out, which they take home.

sti and I in vineyard

Sithandile Ludonga is the man who helps me throughout this process. The white man cannot pronounce his proper Xhosa name so he has rebranded himself Sti. Sti and I in the vineyard with the finished product.

sti making bricks, Jan 2015

I met Sti exactly 10 years ago. We have worked together since. He started off making sun dried clay bricks for our home (above). By the time construction was finished he could lay bricks, plaster, hang doors and do the plumbing.

rooftop garden

In addition to living in a clay house we are fortunate enough to have part of the roof living. Succulent plants use very little water and particularly like flowering in the 42 Celsius days of February.

sti cleaning pool

Another of Sti’s tasks is to check up on our natural swimming pool. This pool uses no chlorine or salt and was designed by Jerome Davis of Aqua Design. There is no point living in a clay house, raising grass fed beef and then bathing in chlorine.

Sti gets a % of sales from each bottle sold out of our tiny cellar.

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BioDynamic agriculture is an enhancement to organic agriculture and the central element of this method is that fertility should be created on the farm. This is in stark contrast to conventional farming where the soil destroying fertilisers are produced in huge, energy intensive factories and then trucked for many kilometres to the farm.

The second element is that a farm should be financially, environmentally and socially profitable.

The third element is a recognition that life is an energetic process and so alignment with these life forces is essential to ensure a healthy farm which results in healthy produce. The best way to describe this element of BioDynamic farming is this series of photos (above and below) taken on the same day of each month at the same spot in the vineyard. 22 August 2014.

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22 September 2014.

22 october 2014

22 October 2014

22 november 2014

22 November 2014.

The plant will continue to grow for approximately another 6 weeks and then put its energy into ripening the fruit which then becomes wine.

Where has all of this growth appeared from? At least 1.5 tons of vegetative matter per hectare has appeared from nowhere?

Energy or non matter manifests, through photosynthesis, into matter. When we eat food, the energy in that matter is released and that is what sustains us.

Rudolf Steiner, who gave the impulse to the BioDynamic movement, had tremendous insight into the these energetic processes and so suggested ways to make various fertility enhancing medicines (the 8 preparations) and ways to apply these medicines either to the land or to the compost heaps. For example enhancing the Calcium process is chiefly achieved through the BD 505 Oak Bark preparation.

Another way of thinking about this element of BioDynamics is to think about full moon and it’s effect on the oceans. Surfers and spring tide. Plants are 97% water and are accordingly also affected. The moon is not the only celestial body and therefore the other bodies also have an effect on the earth.

Energy is streaming into earth from above just like waves are always coming to the shore. Are you on the right surfboard? Or are you a non swimmer?

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It was such a long time ago that you saw the bottle that I needed to put this photo in as a reminder. If you are going to drink the wine, please decant it for at least 15 minutes before drinking. It/she needs time to open up. Contact me if you want to buy any bottles.

Alternatively come to the farm for a real food safari and we can discuss these matters in more depth and I can show you how agriculture can heal the earth.

Angus

 

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