One of my recent highlights, was a visit to Haut Espoir. I’m actually drinking a bottle of their 2006 Syrah as I type this and I’m incredibly grateful I don’t have to share it. Any regular reader of Relax with Dax will know that I definitely have a ‘green side. It can become quite depressing reading about all the environmental destruction and social injustice that happens around the world. Sometimes I stumble across things that uplift me and give me hope, meeting Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir was one of those occasions.
Haut Espoir uses only half the farm for growing grapes, the other half is dedicated to biodiversity. Haut Espoir is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative which has the goals of minimising the further loss of threatened natural habitat, and contributing to sustainable wine production. They have removed the alien vegetation and dedicated over 3 hectares to reestablishing natural fynbos species. They are also using natural fynbos ground cover in the vineyards which not only fixes nitrogen in the soil but also negates the need for pesticides.
Rob has also got the neighbours on his environmental journey and the farmers in the valley have have formed the Franschoek Green Committee. They committing themselves to reducing their environmental impact and promote biodiversity and social upliftment.
Not having heard of Haut Espoir until recently (their wines are available at &Union), I wasn’t sure what to expect from the wines. With Rob’s attention so distracted by things other than wine, I was a bit worried about the quality of the wine. My fears were unfounded as the wine was actually fantastic. I was so impressed that I bought a case before leaving (that’s what I’m drinking while typing this). We had a very interesting tour of the cellar, tasting from various barrels and comparing the effect of the various types of wood on the various types of wine. It was definitely one of the most interesting and informative wine tastings I have ever experienced.
I could say much more about my visit to Haut Espoir but this post is already too long. I can only recommend that you go and visit as soon as you get an opportunity. They are only open to visitors by appointment, but are very happy to show people around and do some wine tasting. Do yourself a favour and go for a walk around the estate and see the work being done with the local fynbos (and enjoy the magnificent views at the same time).
More pics available in the gallery: http://picasaweb.google.com/relaxwithdax/AVisitToHautEspoir
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