SPECIALISED PRODUCTION METHODS
At Durbanville Hills, we produce wines in the most environmentally friendly way. Our producers follow systems and methods aimed at achieving sustainable quality yields year after year while causing minimum disruption to the environment. The concern for the environment is followed through in our cellar, also in respect of the management of waste water and other pollutants.
The ISO 14001 is an environmental management standard assisting organisations in a structured manner to protect the environment, to prevent pollution and to improve our environmental performance. Our cellar has strived to operate as eco-friendly as possible and in 2004, we were proud to receive ISO 14001 accreditation as our cellar’s environmental management system was found to comply with all its requirements.
In addition, each of our bottles boasts a Sustainability Seal, issued by the Wine and Spirit Board in South Africa. This seal certifies that our wines are 100% South African and sourced only through environmentally friendly production methods – from the vine to the bottle.
Our cellar was also one of the first in the Western Cape to recover and purify waste water in a sustainable manner, and recently commissioned an environmentally friendly effluent water treatment plant. As a result, the purified water we produce holds no risk for the environment and is pumped to an irrigation dam that supplies water to one of the adjacent farms.
INTEGRATED PRODUCTION OF WINE (IPW)
We subscribe to a set of environmentally-friendly grape growing practices known as The Integrated Production of Wine (IPW). This system covers both grape growing and also cellar practices and includes harvesting methods, transportation of grapes, use of equipment, winemaking processes and waste management. Since the implementation of IPW, we’ve seen substantial cuts in costs, particularly from reduced usage of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides, as well as water. These practices are critical to secure the long-term sustainability of non-renewable resources and important to us as they promote the safety of vineyard and cellar workers.
IPW is administered by the Wine & Spirit Board, which advises the country’s Department of Agriculture on technical issues relating to the wine industry. It encompasses stringent management of waste water and covers its monitoring in terms of quality and quantity, as well as its storage and use in irrigation. The programme closely monitors spraying practices with regard to “pests”, weeds and mildews, and ensures that residues of agri-chemicals are both environmentally and consumer friendly.
RENOSTERVELD CONSERVATION AND WIETA
The threatened indigenous vegetation found close to our cellar is known as Renosterveld and is receiving the attention it deserves from our cellar. We named our Rhinofields range after Renosterveld to raise awareness and remind South Africans of this valuable part of their inheritance
Our member farms are all located within the scarce West Coast Renosterveld, one of the most important vegetation types in the Cape Floral Kingdom but also the most threatened, as less than 4% of it remains. Unlike fynbos, which grows in poor soils good for little else, Renosterveld prefers fertile, fine-grained soils also ideally suited to wheat and vines. As a result, most of the land sustaining Renosterveld has been converted to agricultural use over the years. It contains some 5 400 indigenous bulb species, many of them extremely rare. This botanical biodiversity is also complemented by numerous bird, amphibian and reptile species.
The delicious wines in our Rhinofields reserve range – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot as well as our Rhinofields Pinotage and Shiraz – are produced by combining grapes from a few selected vineyard blocks that complement each other best.
WIETA was formally established in November 2002. The association arose out of an Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) pilot project in the wine industry in the late 90s The pilot not only assisted the ETI, its retail corporate members and South African partners in learning about, developing and refining inspection methodologies in monitoring their base code, but was also instrumental in bringing together private sector, labour and civil society stakeholders in and associated with the wine industry of the Western Cape to discuss and debate issues around ethical trade.
WIETA has had considerable success in the wine industry, which led to the members taking a decision in October 2005 to extend its work down the wine supply chain and into the wider agricultural sector, while continuing to serve the needs of the wine industry.
Rhino Conservation Project
Durbanville Hills Wines has donated R60 000 to Project Rhino KZN and will at the same time also adopt one of the rhinos currently in the Pongola Game Reserve camp in KwaZulu-Natal.
The money will be used by Space for Elephant Foundation, one of the founder members of Project Rhino, to establish the training, equipment required as well as placement of rhino scouts or bodyguards who will walk with the rhinos in the bush most of the time. Rhino scouts are found to be the most effective way to safeguard the rhino whilst at the same time providing employment within the community, an initiative in full support of the Minister of Department of the Environmental Affairs. These scouts are also taught to collect information about the behaviour of the animals in their care intended for research purposes and to contribute to a central data base.
Members of the rural community living in an area adjoining the Lubombo Mountains and which is home to most of South Africa’s rhinos, will also receive training in wildlife management. The area is part of the internationally protected Maputaland Pondoland Albany Hotspot, an area of exceptional biodiversity and protected by a number of organisations and NGO’s. The community will acquire “ownership” of the area once its members have been fully trained.
Albert Gerber, managing director of Durbanville Hills Wines, said the objective of the cellar’s sponsorship is not only to preserve wildlife but also to create employment in rural communities. “Contributing part of the proceeds from the sale of our Rhinofields range for the protection of rhino and the training of rural communities sharing their habitat is for us a natural extension to our own conservation efforts.
“At our cellar and on our member farms we protect close to 320 ha of renosterveld, the indigenous and highly threatened biomes. The link of this plant species to the rhino’s are a bit of mystery but there are documented sightings during the mid-1600’s of rhino’s roaming the hills of Durbanville, the very area where our vineyards are planted today. Some suggest that the dull, grey appearance of the renosterveld bushes when viewed from a distance resembles that of the wrinkled and rugged hide of a rhino. Others suggest that the rhino’s which once moved freely in the Cape used renosterveld for food and shelter and derived its name in that way.
“We have founded a renosterveld garden at our cellar where visitors can enjoy the beautiful flowers in bloom during the months of October and November as well as named one of our wine ranges Rhinofields as a tribute to this plant family which forms such an important part of the Cape Floral Kingdom.”
Renosterveld, found mainly on fertile farm land along the Cape’s West Coast, is home to more than 5 400 plant species and among the diverse animal life it harbours are found the world’s smallest reptile (Homopus areolatus), its fastest bird (Falco peregrinus) and the rarest tortoise (Psammobates geometricus).