Ernie Els Wines Newsletter – May 2017

03 May

All the latest releases, news and offers from the team at Ernie Els Wines.

1. Ernie Els Wines 7th Annual Harvest Classic
On 29 March, Ernie Els Wines hosted the 7th Annual Harvest Classic at the historic Stellenbosch Golf Club. The weather Gods were in a good mood as the early field got off to a magical start at sunrise overlooking the Stellenbosch mountains and certainly had no excuses not to enjoy themselves! The greens were in fantastic condition given the current water crisis in the Western Cape. All the while, Nicole Brink and her team at Ernie Els Wines had thought of all the finer details to bring the additional chutzpah to the day.

After a leisurely refreshment at the clubhouse, the players made their way up to Ernie Els Wines for the rest of the afternoon. After being greeted with an ice cold welcome drink on arrival, the players sauntered onto the terrace as the live duo began to warm-up and then settled down at their table for lunch. The wine flowed and the epitome of a long, lazy lunch was enjoyed by all until the prize-giving commenced.

Once again there were some amazing prizes on offer thanks to Global Golf, TaylorMade and our other sponsors. Having joined us at the Harvest Classic for several years now, David Wibberly and his partner Jeremy Clayton finally took the honours. The runners-up were Hans and Sue Lichtenburg.

“These are always such wonderful days that we are not surprised that many of the teams who played this year have already reserved their slots for next year,” said Andrew Harris (pictured above right), Head of Marketing & Sales at Ernie Els Wines. “We would love for you to join us and we recommend that you get your booking in as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. We’ll post the date as soon as it’s available, although we can say our 2018 Harvest Classic will be hosted at the superb De Zalze Golf Club. We expect another memorable day.”

2. Dan Nicholl, Brightrock and Ernie Els Wines join forces
Gauteng remains the biggest market in South Africa for Ernie Els Wines and our fearless and steadfast brand representative, Diandre Fryer, continues to work tirelessly to promote and expand the reach of our wines in the North of the country. As Johannesburg forms the centre of the market in the area, Diandre recently assisted our close friend and brand ambassador, Dan Nicholl, to host an evening at the Winston Hotel in Rosebank.

The event was born out of our association with Dan and his TV production, ‘The Dan Nicholl Show’. Along with Ernie Els Wines and a few more companies, Brightrock (a successful Life Insurance company in SA) forms part of a group who have teamed up with Dan.

Dan wanted to get ‘2 birds with on stone’, as the old saying goes, and invited us to design a gourmet food and wine evening highlighting our diverse portfolio of wines. Around 30 of Brightrock’s employees were treated to a fun and informative evening all about wine and food and the magic marriage that exists between the two. It was a fantastic evening, enjoyed by all, and we thank both Dan and the Brightrock members for a wonderful event.

3. Discover rare wine gems at Nedbank CWG Auction Showcase
Attention wine lovers! Here are two dates for your diary: Thursday 17 August in Cape Town; Wednesday 23 August in Johannesburg. That’s when you can get up-close and personal with some of South Africa’s top winemakers, including our very own Louis Strydom, and unlock a treasure trove of individually crafted wines of great diversity at the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase.

A preamble to the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, these two showcase events offer wine lovers the perfect interactive platform to taste these rare auction wines and engage with masters of their craft. Made in small volumes with creative flair exclusively for the auction by the Guild’s members, these wines will then go under the hammer in Stellenbosch on Saturday 30 September.

Over and above the sought-after 2017 auction wines, the members of the Guild will also be representing some of their flagship offerings sold under their own labels.

Showcase-goers will have the opportunity to contribute towards the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust by bidding on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. Founded in 1999, the Development Trust seeks to sustain the health of the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, a highly acclaimed mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.

Information & Contacts
Cape Town Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase

Thursday, 17 August 2017, Cape Town International Convention Centre – Grand Ballroom (First Floor), 18:00 – 21:00, R300 per person, includes a tasting glass. Tickets can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za.

Johannesburg Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase
Wednesday, 23 August 2017, The Atrium, Nedbank Sandton, 135 Rivonia Road, 18:00 – 21:00, R300 per person, includes a tasting glass. Tickets can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za.

The Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction will take place on 30 September from 09h00 at Spier Conference Centre in the Stellenbosch Winelands. The auction is open to the public. Telephonic and proxy bidding options are also available to those unable to attend in person. Registration for the Auction and VIP Lounge will close on 20 September. To find out more and to purchase tickets to the VIP lounge on auction day, visit: www.capewinemakersguild.com, email info@capewinemakersguild.com or call +27 (0)21 852 0408.

GC Communications
Contact Nadia Smuts: Tel: +27 (0)21-462 0520, email: nadia@gc-com.co.za

Cape Winemakers Guild
Contact: Kate Jonker: Tel: +27 (0)21-852 0408, email: kate@capewinemakersguild.com.

4. Science of soil can unlock the secrets of fine wine
In order to produce the highest quality wines, Ernie Els Wines strives for a close relationship between viticulture and oenology. Since viticulture is the foundation of quality wine, this year we were fortunate to host Lydia Bourguignon (Master of Science, Technician in Oenology) and Dr. Claude Bourguignon (Agricultural Engineer and Doctor of Science in Soil Microbiology), from the LAMS (Laboratoire d’Analyse Microbiologique des Sols) in France for a study into our terroir on the Ernie Els Wines property.

The LAMS team thoroughly believes in soil as an organism-rich environment that has the capacity of supporting healthy plant growth without the use of excessive fertilizer or mechanical soil interference. Furthermore, Dr Bourguignon is famous for his approach in sustainable farming. Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, we’ll commence with your science lesson!

The terroir on the Helderberg Mountain is widely known as some of the best that South Africa has to offer. In order to understand this better, the LAMS team came to investigate and describe the unique terroir on the farm to optimize our soil-vine-environment-management continuum for better terroir expression that translates to quality production.

Their visit began with a wine tasting of individual blocks that is kept separate until blending. Lydia was able to describe the soil simply by tasting the wine, truly unique, confirming the ruling effect that terroir has on the wine we grow.

This was a good opportunity to discuss our terroir in combination with what we expect from our vines as most of our soils are ‘clayey’ from granite mother material, with a variety of depths and rock percentages resulting in high potential soil-fit for premium wine growing. After the tasting it was into the vineyards for the next few days to describe our terroir and discuss long and short term strategies of farming for quality and uniqueness. During the LAMS teams’ visit, we spent most of our time in blocks that will be planted in the coming year so we can start with his approach on biodiverse/sustainable farming. The LAMS team furthermore thoroughly investigated our premium blocks for a full terroir description.

The process of describing the terroir begins with the digging of several pits in every vineyard block. Each of these is then studied in great detail. First the layers (or horizons) are described in each pit. Then a study is made of the current root distribution, which guides Dr Bourguignon in possible soil barriers. All roots are described, as many of our winter crop roots enhance micro porosity and keep micro organisms activity high. At this point all the layers porosity is described. In addition, the soil compaction is determined for every horizon.

This is of great importance as roots struggle to grow from extreme low soil density into high compacted layers. This is also a good indication of whether soil preparation was done at the correct time of year or at the correct moisture content, and also shows whether the correct implements were used during preparation. Thereafter, the iron content of each layer is determined with a dye test. This is an indication of air movement into the deeper soil layers that is critical for root and micro-organism development. A field test for the quantitative occurrence of micro organisms is done at all soil horizons. This is important as micro organisms contribute greatly to soil and vine health.

Finally soil samples are taken at several depths for later lab analyses. These include analyses of physical, chemical and biological parameters. All these measurements, along with the environment description such as aspect, height above sea level, slope and area day length exposure are combined to describe the terroir for every block. This is all done with a lot of French flair and heavy accents trembling throughout the vineyards. Once all these parameters have been described and quantified, a holistic view is generated for the long term management of each block.

We’ve already gained some valuable insight from Dr Bourguignon during his visit into the French biodiverse way of viticulture. We want all our vines to express their uniqueness so that the identity of the farm can show in the wine and look forward to his full report, which we will receive once his team completes their laboratory analysis.

5. Bermuda welcomes Ernie Els Wines to its sandy shores
The month of March saw Ernie Els Wines spread its reach across the Atlantic into another new territory, the beautiful paradise-like island of Bermuda, while also consolidating its fast-growing popularity in the state of Colorado in the US. Ernie Els Wines International Sales & Marketing Manager Louw Strydom had the enviable task of travelling to both destinations. He’s a martyr to his work, is Louw!

“It is always such a refreshing experience to travel for business but crossing the Atlantic bound for the USA never fails to cause a stir of excitement,” comments Louw. “The wine industry in the States is well developed and trade clients appreciate the efforts from the vineyards to send representatives to their shores. This open and welcoming mindset is found in abundance in the state of Colorado. Few areas in the USA can mimic the cultural diversity found in the central part of the country. A multitude of co-existing peoples, cultures and beliefs reminds me very much of our native Rainbow Nation in South Africa. Perhaps that is why I feel so at home there.”

Traveling to Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, Louw remarked that one can’t but help marvel at the renaissance of the burgeoning food and wine scene. Sophisticated restaurants and upmarket bars litter every street and corner crossing. Led by an influx of the younger generations seeking prosperity and fortunes, the ‘wine trend’ seems to be shifting away from the established ‘old world’ opulence in favour of ‘new world’ flare.

“Colorado is one of the fastest growing markets for Ernie Els Wines in North America,” comments Louw. “Our product mix is well matched to consumers on all levels and leads with a value vs price point ratio which is tough to beat. We will continue to visit this market annually and look forward to watching it grow.”

On route back to South Africa, Louw was then lucky enough to secure a few days of trade work on the stunning island of Bermuda. “With no idea of what to expect, I arrived in what can only be described as a small storm,” comments Louw. “Much to my delight, it blew over within minutes and the island welcomed me in a holiday-like spirit. White beaches, infinitely clear blue waters and palm trees dominate the shoreline. The only distraction from the natural beauty is the blinding white roofs of every building. Later I was to learn that there is no fresh water source on the island, and that all drinkable water is harvested from the clouds using a unique drainage system found on top of every roof.

“Bermuda is a small island boasting only a few thousand residents (and, incredibly, seven golf courses!) which makes it hard to believe that this place is home to a very upmarket and affluent wine market. Most of the residents are expats in the Insurance industry and are able to indulge in luxuries such as wine. Although South Africa is a small category, we have seen consistent and continued growth in the past four years. Our premium reds along with the Chenin Blanc in the Big Easy range are solid sellers. This too is a market worth watching as we nurture our relationship there.”

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