Bosman Family Vineyards & Lelienfontein Vinegrowers

July 14th, 2011 by karen

At the tasting with winemaker, Corlea Fourie, at Bosman Family Vineyards over the Wellington Festival earlier this year she invited me to go back in winter to learn about their vine nursery.  What an incredible experience!!

At Bosman Family Vineyards a wine legacy of eight generations are respectfully continued on Lelienfontein Estate after the first generation settled on the farm in 1798. After the last wines were made on Lelienfontein in 1956, as well as a previous rich history in winemaking on this farm, the Bosman family started to focus more on their vine nursery for business reasons. After an absence of winemaking for 51 years, the first wine was released from their newly renovated 250 year old cellar in 2007.

The estate invited me along with several others from trade and really went out of their way to entertain us for the day.  After a warm welcome, coffee and muffins in front of the fireplace in the tasting room we watched a short slide show about some history and an overview of the estate.  Then it was out to the vine nursery which hugs the slopes of the Groenberg where young vines are expertly and meticulously maintained to ensure top quality vineyards.

The Bosman family have been practising the art of grafting and growing quality vines since 1888, initially for own use on their wine estate. Lelienfontein Vine Growers was born when Petrus Bosman SNR sold his surplus vines for the first time in 1947. High-quality material was in short supply and it was his lifelong ambition to have a pedigree attached to each vine sold.

Over 80% of all vines planted in the Western Cape come from Wellington and Lelienfontein Vine Growers is the largest single vine nursery in Africa, grafting over 7 million vines annually, with wide spectrum vitus cultivars for the production of superb quality Wine, Table and Raisin grapes. More than 350 different combinations are grafted every season with clients selecting their rootstock based on their soil types and growth requirements.

The whole process from grafting to planting to picking and sorting for the farmer to collect takes 1 year, but there is a crucial 6 week period when most of the activity happens in the nursery and boy was it all hands on deck whilst we were there! We got to see the 1 year old vines being lifted and bunched and placed in holding areas for farmers, as well as the beginning process of cutting virus free rootstock into correct pieces and getting stems ready for grafting – fascinating to see the process in action!

We were then taken through the old and new cellars of the estate, a tutored tasting of their incredible range of wines, before a lovely lunch with fresh breads, meat and cheeses, spreads and quiche.  My “pick of the bunch” remains with the Klein Optenhorst Chenin Blanc and the Adama White and Red but every single wine on offer in their range dances on the palate and entices me back to the glass time and time again.

The estate received the Fairtrade certification in 2009 and whilst not all Bosman Wines are necessarily sold under the Fairtrade label, they are proud to comply with the strict standards of Fairtrade.  You can learn more about Fairtrade on their website www.fairtradelabel.org.za

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to experience the nursery in action.  It has filled me with even greater respect for this wonderful nectar called wine!

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