Our harvest period runs from mid February until mid April. Grapes are handpicked in the vineyards at the lowest possible temperatures and taken to the cellar in order to start the production process.
Sorting and Pressing
Upon arrival at the cellar, the grapes are hand sorted on the sorting table and all unripe and inferior quality berries removed. From there the grapes go through the destemmer and crusher where the stems are removed and the berries are cracked open ever so slightly. In the case of white grapes, the juice is drawn off the skins and pumped to the settling tanks where the juice will be settled clearly before moving it into the fermentation vessels which can be either wooden barrels or stainless steel tanks. In the case of red grapes, the juice remains on the skins to extract its flavors and rich colour. This carefully monitored extraction is aided by regular punch-downs which are done by hand and plays a vital role in the style of wine that the winemaker has in mind. Sometimes their gut feel can also play a role here….but we, as winemakers, would call it “experience” for now.
A winemaker can only work with what they receive from nature
To wood or not to wood, if it were only that simple! Such a controversial and most discussed subject with winemakers, and wine lovers as well. We have chosen to use a mixture of French, Hungarian and American Oak, and a variety of new, 2nd, 3rd or 4th fill barrels. Some serve as traditional wood-support, and some serve simply as a vessel. All have different influences, and we enjoy the complexity and structure the wood adds to some of our wines. Reds are barrel aged, and some we keep in our cellar in the bottle before releasing them.
Wild Yeast, Tank fermentation and aging
Motivated by the desire to get closer to our “place”, we have been letting some of our wines ferment with their own yeast. Thousands of yeast spores are carried in on the skins of the grapes, and instead of giving the mash a boost of industrial yeast, we put our trust in our terroir, and let the juice do it’s thing. To our great joy, we have not yet had to inoculate any wines we let ferment with wild yeast. To make things really exciting, we decided to try natural yeast barrel fermentation with red grapes for some of our pinotage. It ticked away, fermenting slowly and gently, and seems to be very well served by the spores nature has given it. Wines intended to be most fruit forward, we have chosen to ferment and age in stainless steel tanks, so the pure, fresh flavors are enhanced.
Bottling & Labeling
Being an Estate and making mention of our products on the labels as „Estate Wine of Origin“, the whole production process must be carried out on the Estate, including bottling and labelling. Since bottling is an extremely important part of the production process, great care is being taken to ensure that the wine is filled into the bottle at counter pressure to ensure that as little oxidation takes place as possible.
Also the labelling process is done on the Estate and we make use of a system of “double quality control” where the wines are firstly labelled onto storage sheets and then only after that packaged into the correct cartons. This ensures that each bottle can be examined twice before reaching the end consumer.
Interview with Winemaker Tariro Masayiti
Tariro Masayiti - Creativity at Springfontein Wine Estate
It’s through serendipity that Tariro came to follow a career in wine. A Zimbabwean from the small town of Marondera 72km outside Harare, he studied for a B.Sc. (chemistry and biochemistry) at the University of Zimbabwe and worked during his holidays at Mukuyu Wineries as an analyst in the lab. It was a small estate so he was soon doing more and more outside the lab. When the farm manager resigned, he was asked if he could ride a motorcycle and was offered the job. He learnt from the winemaker what needed to be done.
It was from tourists to the winery that he learnt about a winemakers’ course at the University of Stellenbosch. Offered a scholorship by his employer, he moved there and, after four years, made history by becoming the first black student to graduate in Viticulture and Oenology. During his final year he was offered a job by Distell and became assistant winemaker for Fleur du Cap. After 2½ years he was appointed senior winemaker at Nederburg, where he spent 6 years learning from Razvan Macici, the cellarmaster, and absorbing the philosophies and thinking of the legendary Gunter Brozel and his successors at this iconic estate.
What made Nederburg an invaluable learning experience was the way in which it sourced its grapes from different areas, and the tremendous expertise and resources that were available. He was also exposed to marketing and travelled extensively in Africa. Tariro also has a passion for marketing.
It’s much more rewarding to get feedback when people drink your wines. It’s all about making wines and getting the reaction.
He started dreaming about his own small label but needed to gain red wine experience first, so he joined the KWV as red wine maker for one vintage. And then he saw the advert for the winemaker for Springfontein. He discussed it with his most important mentor, Dr. Rowald Hepp of Schloss Vollrads in Germany, and decided to apply. Joining Springfontein means Tariro “can be creative in the way he does things.”
“Wine making has developed enormously outside of the traditional areas like Stellenbosch,” he says. “Hemel-en-Aarde on the other side of Hermanus started demonstrating excellent wines quite some time ago but the potential of Stanford as a wine-making area still needs to be appreciated. It’s time it was discovered. It’s an area where the great SA varietals – Chenin blanc and Pinotage – thrive. But we need to change mindsets because the Pinotage is not the typical Pinotage you may have come to expect.
The same thing has already happened in the Swartland over the past four years. All the elements and personalities have come together and now they’re doing really great things.
This is the rally call that Stanford needs and maybe Tariro is the person to lead the change,“It’s about getting together and complimenting each other; learning from each other,” he says. So, at the age of 40 and with 11 harvests behind him, Tariro is ready to start having fun – while making wines that will surprise you. The wines are not geared towards the mass market; there will be wines of character – the sort of thing you would expect from garagistes. He mentions a bubbly made from chenin blanc/pinotage, natural fermentations, and fermenting in small open barrels.
And he’s enthusiastically supported by owners who set out to create an exceptional boutique wine estate which is a trendsetter. His partner, Hildegard, Springfontein’s horticulturist, is doing her Master’s thesis at Stellenbosch University on Buchu. She developed the vegetable garden for Springfontein Eats, and then there’s the untapped potential of many hectares of undeveloped fynbos on the farm.
Posted on February 27, 2013 by CapeInfo
Interview with Carl Momberg