Over the years I have visited most organic wine farms in the country, but yesterday I found the Avondale jewel which left me speechless. Synthesizing organic and biodynamic farming methods with modern science and what I would call abject earth stewardship provides the ultimate holistic system which only the artist proprietor behind it all, Jonathan Grieve, can explain.
But first of all the fresh news. This week Jonathan was awarded runner-up for the Green Personality category at the international Drinks Business Green Awards, which was held at the Ivy in London last night. Avondale was also a finalist in the Sustainability Award category.
The Drinks Business Green Awards is the world’s largest programme to raise awareness on green issues and rewards those in the beverage industry who are leading the way in terms of sustainability and environmental performance.
Green Personality an understatement for this artist
The Green Personality accolade is awarded to the individual who has excelled in recent years in furthering environmental causes within the industry and their company. The competition for the 2013 Awards was tough and Johnathan was awarded runner up to Italy’s Carlo de Biasi, chief agronomist at Casa Vinicola Zonin. The judges’ feedback was as follows:
“Hugely influential biodynamic advocate in South Africa Jonathan Grieve impressed the judges for his attempts to minimise the impact of his business on the environment and also educate others in sustainable viticulture and eco-conscious living.”
Johnathan’s initiatives that contributed towards him receiving this accolade include:
- Johnathan pioneered the BioLOGIC® methodology which incorporates organic, biodynamic & scientific farming principles for a balanced approach that creates living ecosystems.
- Johnathan established an Avondale community organisation, centre and children’s crèche with the aim of uplifting the workforce and greater community.
- Johnathan is an inspirational keynote speaker in large-scale public forums.
- Johnathan introduced the concept of the biodynamic tasting calendar to the wine industry in a unique & innovative way. This campaign, termed the ‘Luna Taste Test’, has since become an Avondale-owned “buzzword” in the industry.
Well done Johnathan! We are extremely proud of you! But how did a young man, fresh out of art school, become an excelling student of Nature on a beautiful family farm?
Let the man speak for himself:
The news that drew us to the farm in the first place was another Avondale and South African first: The launch of their 2010 vintages Cyclus, Camissa and Anima in new, lightweight glass bottles imported from the greenest glass blowers in the world – Vetreria Etrusca in Italy.
During a wine tasting to blow your socks off – especially if you’re into the symbolic meanings of every name and symbol, with resultant energetic infusion in taste and experience, backed by the practical application of the interweave between the magic of science, ancient knowledge and, dare I say, spirituality – we enjoyed the new bottle’s story.
Sustainable glass makes total sense
The new, lightweight and sustainable glass bottles imported from Italy makes total sense. From production through to packaging, Avondale aims to be environmentally responsible in all that they do. “We consciously choose packaging materials that reflect our environmentally-aware approach to farming, and we are guided by our belief that a healthy environment is integral to the creation of premium wines.”
Grieve selected the Borg Sorgente model from Vetreria Etrusca’s range of bottle designs for its elegant, lightweight form. Vetreria Etrusca is an environmentally-responsible Italian company which has been producing containers in glass for over 60 years.
“We produce a premium range of wines, which need to be packaged accordingly. Wines at the top end of the market are typically packaged in very heavy bottles (anything up to 1kg). We were looking for bottles that have the elegant proportions of a heavy bottle, but were much lighter weight. We also wanted a bottle that was truly unique and reflected the elegance of the product. The only range we found that perfectly met our vision was Vetreria Etrusca’s.”
Avondale also uses on FSC-accredited corks for its range of nature-friendly wines. “If you are producing wines that are intended to age and develop in the bottle then cork is best. Synthetic closures seal out oxygen which keeps the product from changing and possibly oxidising. However, this creates a very reductive closed environment. Cork actually allows micro amounts of oxygen to enter the wine over a long period of time, which is favourable as it allows the wines to age and develop.”
Conscientious labelling & paperless QR codes
This conscientious approach doesn’t stop here. For its labelling, Avondale uses uncoated paper in natural warm earthy colours and uses debossing for its finishing, providing texture and depth. QR codes offer a paperless explanation of each wines – a great example of digital marketing with virtually no carbon footprint. Each label has its own unique design that reflects the name on the bottle, but yet remains part of the same ‘family.’
“For instance, Avondale’s Viognier blend is called ‘Cyclus’, which refers to a vortex. In nature, the turbulent flow of the vortex is used to energise and revive fluids, and this powerful motion is mimicked in the biodynamic farming methods employed by Avondale. Cyclus derives its name from the way that the farm’s unique life energy swirls through the invigorating layers of this dynamic white blend.”
“We intend to roll-out the new packaging across our entire range as each new vintage is released. We view our packaging as a progressive endeavour – one that will constantly
Avondale’s ethos, Terra Est Vita, or ‘Soil is Life’ guides this wine estate in the Klein Drakenstein Mountains near Paarl and its approach to the environment. Since the owners’ son, current proprietor Johnathan Grieve joined the farm in 1999, Avondale went through a revolutionary change after developing a unique approach to farming and wine making. The Bio-LOGIC® approach to farming encompasses all the best elements of organic and biodynamic farming while still taking advantage of the benefits that modern science has to offer. Avondale produces seven wines: Anima, a lively Chenin Blanc; Cyclus, a refreshing white blend; La Luna, a classic red blend; Samsara, a Syrah; Navitas, the flagship red blend; Armilla, a joyous Brut made in the Méthode Cap Classique tradition; and Camissa, a rosé.
Meeting farmers of this evolved calibre truly gives me hope for the future of this planet. Thank you for the inspiration and dedication to serving and listening to Nature.
By Elma Pollard