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Lammershoek Winery, South Africa – Paul and Anna Kretzel (owners), and Craig Hawkins (winemaker)

June 11, 2012

Lammershoek Winery is a small family-owned and run winery in the Swartland, South Africa. The focus is on natural (organic) farming to create natural wines.

The farms Lammershoek and Welgelegen were bought by Paul and Anna Kretzel in 1995. In 2000, no longer content delivering grapes to the local co-op and in partnership with the Stephan family, the first vintage was produced under the Lammershoek label.

After finding our feet and playing around with styles and varieties, we have settled our focus on creating terroir driven wines with a special interest in Chenin Blanc and Syrah.

Our belief is that certain grape varieties perform well on certain soil types and in certain climates. To this end any new plantings at Lammershoek will be grapes that can perform on sandy, mineral-rich decomposed granitic soils where water is scarce and the sun is hot. Anything else will be phased out over the next few years. We have 96ha of vineyards ranging from our beautiful bush-vine, dry-land, 50+ year Chenin Blanc to Syrah staked in the Northern Rhone style to old, “unconventional” specialities such as Carignan, Harslévelü and Tinta Barocca.

Carignan Grapes

2010 was our official year of conversion to organic farming. No chemical fertilizers, herbicides or systemic fungicides have been or will be used at Lammershoek in the future. We are reverting to “old-school”, natural farming where most of the work is done by hand and where balance in the vineyards is of utmost importance.

Working naturally is an obvious choice and path that doesn’t need too much deliberation.  With just a short glimpse of the tons of chemicals that are dumped onto soils and into wines, we don’t see how it’s possible to farm and make wine in any other way than working naturally/organically outside and in. It requires a conscious effort from each and every person involved; this in turn has a ripple effect on our staff and ourselves in regarding what we eat, what we drink and how we live.

The Cattle

In the vineyard we farm organically, we make our own compost, we have our own herd of cattle – slowly growing it to 50 head purely for “manure” production, and we make our own compost/plant teas for spraying on the vineyards and surrounding plant areas. All weed control is done by tractor/plow or by hand (around the vines) no chemicals are sprayed here. We use only a little bit of sulphur in the vineyards for disease control and slowly cutting out the use of copper and replacing it with fermented teas. We follow moon cycles when it comes to pruning and planting as strictly as is logistically/practically possible. We are not biodynamic but work with certain principles that we feel work for us. The key thing for us is observation and basic trial and error until we are happy with what we have achieved.

The Sorting Table

In the cellar we use the same principles as in the vineyard; the only thing we add is a tiny amount of sulphur at the specific wines most crucial stage. And for some wines no sulphur at all even at bottling. The wines are fermented with wild yeasts, nothing is added or taken away and we don’t filter or fine the wines. About 80% of all grapes are not destemmed so a lot of whole bunches are used in the cellar. Grapes are pressed using a basket press (all reds, 50% white) and a small bag press. We have no recipe in the cellar and everything including picking is done according to taste with the end wine in mind.

Acidity is central to all our wines whether they be white/orange/pink/red/petillant, there is always a central spinal cord of acidity onto which all the other flavors/tannins etc. bond themselves to. All wines do malolactic fermentation naturally.

Chenin Blanc

The most difficult obstacles we encounter are always man or man-made.  Changing the way people think is more difficult than the physical aspect of doing something. Changing people’s perception is always a slow process but we have been fortunate to work with people that are very open minded, and the step towards making wine naturally and farming in tune with nature has been a relatively simple one, not in execution but in idea.

The biggest obstacle in the vineyard is providing the right balance of nature and vine, so we can still achieve the yields that are given to us naturally without taking away too much from what is already in the vineyard. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but, by observing the different circumstances from season to season and from year to year, we continue to learn the best way to make a final bottled wine that is pure.










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