Sustainability is the name of the game – and that’s a term with extremely broad reach, from the financial viability of wine businesses, encompassing growers and producers to label firms, cork and bottle suppliers, logistics companies, suppliers and all across the spectrum – to the more easily recognisable environmental challenges farmers face.
So, it was opportune to have been invited to visit Stellenbosch producer Villiera as part of a small, socially distanced quartet a week ago. One almost forgets that this family-owned operation was pioneers of the South African sparkling wine category way back in the 90s. It also had a bush vine Sauvignon Blanc making waves and gaining critical acclaim before Chenin Blanc and Pinotage popularised bush vines!
And they’re not done innovating! The evidence is hard to miss with glass demijohns filled with hazy, honey-coloured sweet wine perched atop the tasting room roof: Jeff Grier revealed that this Dakwyn, a fortified Chenin dessert wine, is one of the innovations of the next generation of winemakers – nephew Xander Grier and Nathan Valentine. But it was his calm recitation of how the global pandemic had affected their business – and the plans that were now in place which was impressive.