Nature rules at Avondale

With planet-friendly biodynamic principles keeping the vineyards happy, Avondale is no run-of-the-mill wine estate.

Terra est Vita. Soil is life. These three simple words underpin the philosophy behind award-winning Paarl estate Avondale, where a flock of snail-hungry ducks and farming to biodynamic principles are as important to what is in the bottle as the grapes themselves.

“We are all about putting the focus on terroir, which is only possible through natural production”, says Avondale’s proprietor Johnathan Grieve. The Grieve family, owners of Vital Health Foods, bought the farm in 1997 and released the first Avondale wines in 1999. In 2000 a mountain fire swept away much of the property, presenting a unique opportunity to reinvent the estate. Today, the vineyards are farmed according to Grieve’s philosophy of BioLogic, a combination of organic and biodynamic principles that puts soil and natural processes first.

“Biodynamics is the homeopathy of agriculture. It’s about kick-starting and using the natural rhythms that already exists,” says Grieve.  Avondale harvests all grapes by hand and uses only wild yeasts for fermentation. No chemical fertilisers or insecticides are used. Instead, they have been with a number of biodynamic “preperations” and working with the rhythms of the moon stars, is key.

“In biodynamics we do certain things according to the day. On root days we will plan root crops. We will do pruning on certain days. We will do weeding on certain days. All our actions on the estate are governed by the constellations.

Whether or not you subscribe to the philosophy, the results are impressive: Avondale crafts full-bodied yet elegant wines that are also planted friendly.

The La Luna blend of five Bordeaux varietals pays tribute to the influence of the moon on the farm’s activities, while the vortex logo on Cyclus – a fabulous full-bodied white blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Chenin Blanc and Semillon – is a nod to natural energies and the hand-stirring of biodynamic preparations on the farm.

The Rhone-style Navitas blend is justifiably billed as the flagship, but the Samsara, an elegant Syrah bursting with pepper and red berries, is perhaps the ideal introduction to Avondale.