An Interview with Nadia Langenegger on Biodynamic winemaking

– A return to the natural art of making wine


Waterkloof was born in the dynamic and unpredictable forces of nature in the centre of the Hottentots-Holland and Helderberg mountains’ embrace. With its highest point at 300 metres above sea level and a scant four kilometres from the False Bay coast.

A combination of destiny and good judgement brought winemaker Nadia Langenegger, to Waterkloof and it is here were that she learned the essential aspects of quality vines and wines. Having been with Waterkloof since the opening of the cellar in 2009, she can genuinely say that she knows every square inch of vineyard on the farm like the palm of her hand and the tremendous potential that lies within it.

Living and work in harmony with nature are to acknowledge, respect and promote its intrinsic value. She firmly believes in the biodynamic and organic philosophies of Waterkloof.

I raised a few questions to the winemaker, Nadia Langenegger:

Q) Do all wine naturally contain sulphite and why, is it a natural occurrence in making wine?
A) Yes, they do but only in very small quantities. The yeast produces sulphites as a by-product during the course of fermentation.

Q) Would you describe organic wines as natural wines?
A) “The term natural wine is still a bit grey but when the organic wine is fermented by using the indigenous yeast from the vineyard then yes. You are still allowed to inoculate with specific yeast strains when certified organic.”

Q) As a wine producer – would you say there is a particular grape variety that lends itself best to natural/ organic wine making styles?
A) “There are varietals that are easier to work with when making natural wine. Rhone varietals often has higher pH levels which can make natural winemaking more difficult as spoilage bacterial also often enjoy the same pH level. The way to go about that is to just work really clean in the winery and taste the wine often.”

Q) Who is the greatest influence, supporter and role model in natural/organic wine making in South Africa?
A) “I have always admired Reyneke Wines as they go above and beyond to work naturally in their vineyards and in harmony with nature. Johan is also a kind and gentle soul- leading his team from behind.”

Q) Would you say there are more struggles in natural/organic winemaking as in conventional wine making? Or just different struggles?
A) “In my opinion – different struggles as all wineries are unique, but in natural winemaking your hygiene needs to be a step above the rest. Your risks are higher- we are often referred to as cowboy winemakers.”

Q) Cellaring natural/organic wines. Do organic/natural wine making styles affect the cellaring potential on a wine?
A) “Organically grown vineyards often yield lower quantities. With this you have smaller berries with more concentration – these berries often have more tannins which improves your ageing potential. From there on it depends on many things which the winemaker would have done in the winery. I do believe that our wines can keep for a longer time with our low yields and with the way that we make our wines.”

With the firm belief that biodynamic farming, allied with minimal intervention winemaking, will best enable them to achieve their goal of producing wines of vitality this is achieved by cultivating on a farm that is truly alive and in tune with its natural environment.

Biodynamic farming is an imperfect, natural agricultural process of cultivation based on the “sensitive intelligence” of an interconnected natural world.

As a WWF South Africa Conservation Champion, with 107 of their total 189 hectare set aside for wild, indigenous flora and fauna, Waterkloof is recognised as an environmental leader in the wine industry. Focusing on their commitment to conservation, responsible production practices, integrated environmental management systems, and spearheading innovations in water, energy efficiency and climate adaptation.

Wine Village unreservedly supports the contribution that Waterkloof makes to the health of – the planet – people and – the south African wine industry. Click here to invest in these great contributions too.

At Waterkloof, the Circle of Life range is the living embodiment of their commitment to farming in absolute harmony with nature. These two blends encapsulate all of the varying terroir characteristics and grape varietals on the estate. They’re neither driven by cultivar or vineyard parcel, nor constrained by traditional blending styles.

Instead, they’re a true reflection of the totality, philosophy and specificity of Waterkloof – and each vintage tells the evolving story of the living, breathing organic and biodynamic vineyard.

If you are new to the world of organic wines, then we are here to help you get going. Below you will find a great example of an everyday drinking red and white organic wine to get started on. You can choose a case of red or white depending on your preference or if you want to try a bit of both, you are welcome to mix it up.

However, if you are already an organic wine enthusiast then don’t miss out on Paul’s Organic selection. Just click on your preference and we will make sure that you are delighted with great wine and excellent service.