November 12, 2019
Over 800 visitors braved the strong winds on Saturday to attend the Agulhas Wine Triangle Festival held at Black Oystercatcher Wines, an estate located on the road between Bredasdorp and Baardskeerdersbos.
Formerly known as the Elim Wine Festival, the strategic decision was taken a few months ago to rebrand the festival to better reflect the geographic realities of an area that straddles three municipalities – Cape Agulhas, Overstrand and Swellendam – and forms a triangle from Gansbaai in the west to Napier, across to Buffeljags and Malgas in the northeast and incorporating Elim in the far south.
“Since the Elim growers planted vineyards amongst wheat fields and alongside herds of sheep and cattle more than 20 years ago, followed by viticultural developments in the hills above Gansbaai, along the Breede River in Malgas and on the slopes of the Akkedisberg in Napier, the imagination of wine explorers has been captivated by the emergence of this small group of award-winning winemakers,” say André Morgenthal and Nadia Hefer, who have collaborated with them to launch a new wine region, the Agulhas Wine Triangle (AWT).
The AWT is managed by André, who is known for his work on South Africa’s Old Vine Project, along with Nadia, a qualified winemaker with an MBA in Responsible Management. There are currently eight brand-owner members located in the triangle: Lomond, Bruce Jack, Olivedale, Sijnn, Black Oystercatcher and Strandveld Vineyards. The other two members are Ghost Corner and Trizanne Signature Wines, both of which source their fruit from the area.
“The aim is to promote the region, sell more wine, raise wine prices, and eventually to tap into wine tourism. Right now, there are very few tasting rooms within the region but that will change as it grows in the coming years,” explains André.
Tackling the prospects of climate change by sharing knowledge and experience is one of the drivers behind the formation of the AWT. “Each member is focused strongly on sustainability and conservation of the environment at a grassroots level that involves cultivar, farming and social practices,” says Nadia.
“If you speak to each brand owner, the golden thread is nature conservation and social upliftment,” adds André.The Elim wine growers have, for example, along with several neighbours, created the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (NWSMA), successfully re-introducing hippos and buffalo to the area. Dirk Human, the owner and founder of Black Oystercatcher Wines is the Chair of NWSMA.
The HeadStart Music Trust is another example. Started by his mother, the late Elspeth Jack over 20 years ago, winemaker Bruce Jack, of Bruce Jack Wines, is a trustee of the organisation established in his mother’s memory. The HeadStart Music Trust provides and promotes education and outreach programmes for educational enrichment, academic support and supplementary tuition to poor and needy children in the Napier area.
For further information on NWSMA go to nuwejaars.com. To learn more about the HeadStart Music Trust watch this video at youtu.be/SuM5pcZkuJY.