Category Archives: At Elgin Ridge

Biodynamic farming at Elgin Ridge Wine Estate

Cows contribute to our biodynamic farming in several ways; during winter they graze in the vineyards, thus keeping the weeds under control; and more importantly fertilising the soil with their manure, giving energy to the soil naturally.

Dexters at Biodynamic Elgin Ridge
Chad at 1 day old

Elgin Ridge has a growing heard of 70 Dexter cows; including 14 calves born at Elgin Ridge so far this year. Dexter are a natural miniature breed from Ireland.

We have planted 7 HA of pastures this year, and use a rotating grazing system with portable electric fencing; this way our cows graze in our nutrient-rich pastures ensuring they eat when they want, in the best pastures available, as mother nature intended.  We treat our cows kindly, allowing them to roam, and never over milk them. This leads to happy Dexters that produce beautiful marbled beef.

When our non breeding bulls are ready, we supply Andy Fenner at Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, see ffmm.co.za with our Dexter beef for his selected customers.

Visit Elgin Ridge and see our special Dexter cattle

Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival

Elgin Ridge is a unique certified organic vineyard in Elgin. We believe in farming using traditional, long since forgotten, methods. This has enabled us to become the only certified organic farm in Elgin. Visit us and taste our sought after wines, produced from our organic grapes.

Lunch Offering

Lunch will be served between 12h00 and 14h30, overlooking the vineyards. Booking is essential as we have limited space. Wine will be available by the glass or bottle.

Lunch Menu

Mature Brie & Caramelized Onion Tart with Fresh Rocket & Rosa Tomatoes

Rooibos Smoked Norwegian Salmon with Capers & Lemon

Herb & Dijon Crusted Beef Fillet with Herb Aioli & Jus

Bacon & Sun dried Tomato Couscous Salad

Wholegrain New Potato Salad

Almond Green Beans

On the Sweeter Side

Elgin Valley Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream, Berries & Elgin Honey

R350 per person

2014 Harvest News

Elgin Ridge Harvest 2014

After a cool and very wet summer, harvest at Elgin Ridge started with the Chardonnay (Marion’s Bubbly) on February 11th.

This was followed by the Pinot Noir on February 24th and the Sauvignon Blanc was started on March 12th and finished on March 18th, a full two weeks later than 2013 reflecting the cool season.

Whilst a challenging vintage, the fruit was perfectly ripe at the time of picking, and bunch selection was rigorous. thus eliminating any sub-standard fruit.

All varietals produced juice of excellent quality and all were naturally fermented without any inoculation of commercial yeasts. This produces relatively slow ferments which preserve natural flavours and aromas thus reflecting the true attributes of the location, climate & soil.

All the wines are potentially the best so far from Elgin Ridge, with the Pinot Noir looking outstanding, with fine fruit and good acidity. The Sauvignon Blanc probably has the best expression of the varietal we have had and whilst the Chardonnay has much reduced yields, the quality is excellent.

A challenging vintage which required diligence and a determination not to sacrifice quality for quantity.

Brian

Competition Closed and we have Lucky Winners

When will Ruby have her calf
When will Ruby have her calf

Our competition is easy; guess what date Ruby, our treasured Dexter cow, will have her calf and also guess if it will be a boy or a girl, to win a case of Elgin Ridge Sauvignon Blanc.

If you guess the date correctly but get the boy or girl wrong; you will win 3 bottles of Elgin Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

If you guess it is a girl or boy correctly; but get the date wrong, you will win 3 bottles of Elgin Ridge Sauvignon Blanc.

Ruby is expected to have her calf between now and the 6th January 2014, so don’t take too long to decide or you may miss winning a case of our Organic Sauvignon Blanc

Competition winners need to be over 18 years and live in South Africa or the United Kingdom. Sorry rest of the world, our wine will be available in your country soon.

Behind the scenes at Elgin Ridge

Each season our vines burst into life looking healthier and healthier, The vineyards which produce our organic wines have not been sprayed with any chemical since 2007, Which might be why our wines receive such rave reviews.

We are often asked, how can we farm organically when many organic vineyard owners get very low yields, but at Elgin Ridge, we are blessed, achieving really good yields. So take a look at what happens at Elgin Ridge behind the scenes to make our wonderful wines.

New buds on vines

At Elgin Ridge we never use chemical to control pests, we use ducks instead

Ducks checking for pests

We never use insecticides, as each vine has a band of fluffy material to stop insects crawling up the vine

Vines with fluffy skirts

We make and use biodynamic preparations from our own cow dung and make our all our own compost from cellar waste and any organic material on the farm.

Cows in vineyard

A big work load, farming organically, is weeding each row of vines by hand, having visited Burgundy last year, and seen how horses are used to plough the weeds back into the soil, we now have Maddox on the farm, Maddox a gentle, enormous, Percheron, loves ploughing. He only needed two training sessions and he was ready for work.

Maddox Ploughing

Christian Eedes tastes our Sauvignon Blanc

Elgin Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2012An organic sauvignon with a certain Je ne sais quoi is how Christian Eedes describes our 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Elgin Ridge retains the winning quirkiness while simultaneously losing some of the rough edges of previous vintages.

No exaggerated aromatics but Golden Delicious apples, green melon and an intriguing hint of spice on the palate.

Total acidity is 6.7g/l but you’d never guess – nine months on the lees adds plenty of texture without the wine becoming unduly heavy.

Owners Brian and Marion Smith set out to be organic since acquiring the small property in 2007 and acquired official certification in October 2011. “I’m pleased we’re avoiding the green, acidic style of Sauvignon. I agree with you about that quirkiness but I’m not sure where it comes from,” says Brian. My guess is that this is another instance where organically grown grapes are contributing to a wine that isn’t same old, same old.

Read more about Christian Eedes at www.whatidranklastnight.co.za

Score: 88/100.

Taste the Only Organic Pinot in South Africa

04 April 2013 Pinot Noir

On the 6th and 7th of April Elgin Ridge, as part of the Elegantly Elgin Open Wine Weekend, is offering you an unique opportunity to taste and pre order the first organic Pinot Noir in South Africa. The wine has been produced to strict European Organic Standards.

Bunches were 100% de-stemmed, with natural fermentation, and 10 months in 20% new French Oak.

Only 1400 Bottles of this unique wine were produced.

The colour is bright medium to dark red with red summer fruits and hints of warm spices, cinnamon and cloves on the nose

The palate is fruit forward on entry, cherries and raspberries with a slight herbal note on mid-palate with a long finish. The tannins are balanced and approachable.

1st Bottle of Pinot Noir at Elgin Ridge
1st Bottle of Pinot Noir at Elgin Ridge

Alcohol 13.5%, Sugar 2.2 g/l, PH 3.6, TA 5.0 g/l, Free SO2 28, Total SO2 61

Cellar Price R250.00 inc VAT

Proud winemakers, Niels Verburg and Brian Smith,
holding the first South African organic pinot noir.

Marion and Brian

Twitter @ElginRidgeWines

Elgin Ridge and Platter’s Wine Guide

The 2013 Platter’s Guide recently made its debut on the market, just in time for Christmas, and we must say that we are very pleased. The new edition brings an added bout of excitement for us, in addition to our inclusion in the guide; Elgin Ridge was also featured in the Platter’s 2013 photo gallery.

Elgin Ridge DucksThe photo gallery forms part of a new section of the Platter’s Guide that features the tales of some of South Africa’s top wineries. The stories highlight the passions and preoccupations, the dreams, challenges and successes of these wineries. We are thrilled to have the story of how Elgin Ridge came to fruition included; another step in “living the dream”.

We had a wonderful time with photographer, Teddy Sambu and Athol Moult. Teddy is the first chosen Imara Lightwarrior for the Imara Trust and under the mentorship of renowned photographer Athol Moult, will gain valuable experience. Teddy is from Khayelitsha and after the death of his mother, Teddy started taking photographs of children playing football on the N2 motorway, using whatever equipment he could get his hands on. With limited education, photography was his chosen means of expression. As a chosen Imara Lightwarrior, Teddy has the opportunity to progress to a first class professional photographer. Teddy can be contacted by Linkedin.

Athol Moult is a prominent Cape Town artist and photographer and has regular solo exhibitions. His work is represented in public and private collections in South African and abroad. Athol can be contacted at his web site Athol Moult.

Here are a few behind the scenes images from the day

Teddy and Athol   Teddy hard at work

Marion and Brian   Athol hard at work

For the full story find us on page 248 of the guide.

Monty Waldin Biodynamic Guru

Monty Waldin
Monty Waldin

When biodynamic guru Monty Waldin came to Elgin Ridge in April this year, he suggested that we look into adding a new element to our biodynamic practices…in the form of a cow. Little did we realise some five months later that Elgin Ridge would become home to a small, yet very precious herd of Dexter cattle.

The end goal of Monty’s suggestion to get a cow, was the creation of a cow pat pit. In the pit the cow manure is mixed with biodynamic preparations and allowed to ferment. After some time this mixture, now abounding with natural enzymes and bacteria, is applied to the soil. This process greatly complements our existing organic practices by increasing microbial activity and the overall health of the soil.

After Monty’s visit and an extensive amount of research, I decided that Dexter was the breed for Elgin Ridge. Dexter are a naturally small breed of cows that are known for their docile nature and calm temperament. What was even more charming about these cows, and which appealed to me sentimentally – I’m Irish and my grandfather had a cattle farm in Ireland – is that they are an old Irish breed. The choice could not have been more fitting!

Amber
Amber

First to join the Elgin Ridge family Queen and Alice. Soon after was Ruby – a rare, red polled (hornless) dexter, who much to our delight gave birth to her calf, Amber, in early September. Last week we purchased Molly, a black Dexter, who is also nursing a calf and a bull names Monty

So, not only is our little herd thriving but also thanks to Ruby and Molly, who are providing our pat pit with the best possible manure considering they are nursing, so is our pat pit and soil and ultimately our preparations for our 2013 vintage.

Marion

To read more about Monty Waldin see his latest book