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On the Road with Dombeya- Prowein Day 1

Date: Tue, Apr 6, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Grant Dodd



The first thing you notice about Prowein is just how huge it is. Seven massive halls, all packed to the walls with wine producers looking to sell their wares to the world.

As a producer, it is easy to have a somewhat insular view of your importance to the wine world. Rightly, you view your brand as having cache', and hold a glossy view of its place in the order of things. Only when you come to a show such as this do you have the opportunity however to fully realise just how massive an industry this is, and just how many people are in exactly the same boat as you.

The South African stand is in Hall 6, and with most people entering at Hall 1, it takes a while for the crowd to start filtering down to where we are situated. Once they do, it is fairly constant action for most of the day, one that starts at 9am and goes through till 6pm. Lots of tasting, lots of talking, lots of trying to make eye contact with important looking people who seem to be making decisions whilst tasting with other wineries. There's no point in standing there like a statue- Darwinist theory rules supreme in the wine industry, so you need to make yourself noticed, and heard. The rule of the four B's- be seen, be heard, be read, and befriend- are paramount in this game. Ignore them at your peril.

Some good prospects, and a lot of interest from German restaurants and hotels, so hopefully we will sell some more wine this year through our German importer Kloos and Kloos. A few more appointments tomorrow, so off to bed for a jet-lagged sleep and back at it tomorrow.

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On the Road with Dombeya- Prowein 2010- Shaming the Neanderthals

Date: Tue, Mar 23, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Even allowing for the renowned penchant for frankness of the Germans, this was going a bit far. I know that I'm Australian and that we come with a small amount of baggage and a larger amount of preconception, but...more on this later.

I'm in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the 2010 edition of Prowein, the huge wine fair held annually here where the wine trade get together and see who wants to buy what from whom.

It is a big haul to get here from Australia. The trip starts with an hour and a half on the train to Brisbane airport, then eight hours to Singapore, a four hour wait, twelve hours to Frankfurt, then a two hour wait, then a forty minute flight to Duseldorf. Then I jumped on the train to head to my hotel, and that's where all the fun started.

No problem making it into Dusseldorf central, but given my dearth of German, finding the way to my hotel via the underground was proving a little challenging. So, I approached a couple of young lads for some directions.

Easy, they replied, you just jump on this train here and you'll be there in four stops. Wow! So easy, so efficient, and the people are so friendly. You have to love Germany. The only problem was that four stops later I realise that I am on my way to France, and that the hotel I am booked into is exactly the opposite direction. Not sure what they call it in German, but I believe the current term is 'getting punked' !

Eventually I made it to the right track, and got onto the right train. Twenty minutes later I am one stop short of Mettmann, my destination, when the sign above my head starts flashing, and we pull into Neanderthal station. Just one of those moments in time, I guess, when opportunity and circumstance meet. I looked around to see if there was a Springbok back row forward in the vicinity, but alas, it was just me.

The show starts tomorrow, so we're looking forward to meeting lots of people and hopefully finding distribution in a few key markets that we are yet to cover. More on Prowein during the week.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

On the Road with Dombeya- Prowein 2010- Shaming the Neanderthals

Date: Tue, Mar 23, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Grant Dodd



Even allowing for the renowned penchant for frankness of the Germans, this was going a bit far. I know that I'm Australian and that we come with a small amount of baggage and a larger amount of preconception, but...more on this later.

I'm in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the 2010 edition of Prowein, the huge wine fair held annually here where the wine trade get together and see who wants to buy what from whom.

It is a big haul to get here from Australia. The trip starts with an hour and a half on the train to Brisbane airport, then eight hours to Singapore, a four hour wait, twelve hours to Frankfurt, then a two hour wait, then a forty minute flight to Dusseldorf. Then I jumped on the train to head to my hotel, and that's where all the fun started.

No problem making it into Dusseldorf central, but given my dearth of German, finding the way to my hotel via the underground was proving a little challenging. So, I approached a couple of young lads for some directions.

Easy, they replied, you just jump on this train here and you'll be there in four stops. Wow! So easy, so efficient, and the people are so friendly. You have to love Germany. The only problem was that four stops later I realise that I am on my way to France, and that the hotel I am booked into is exactly the opposite direction. Not sure what they call it in German, but I believe the current term is 'getting punked' !

Eventually I made it to the right track, and got onto the right train. Twenty minutes later I am one stop short of Mettmann, my destination, when the sign above my head starts flashing, and we pull into Neanderthal station. Just one of those moments in time, I guess, when opportunity and circumstance meet. I looked around to see if there was a Springbok back row forward in the vicinity, but alas, it was just me.

The show starts tomorrow, so we're looking forward to meeting lots of people and hopefully finding distribution in a few key markets that we are yet to cover. More on Prowein during the week.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Merlot Voodoo

Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Vintage 2010 has started, so there is a ton of action in the cellar, and more than a few new ideas floating around in the minds of the winemaking team this year.

Rianie has come back from her trip to the Napa full of experimental leanings, and has set the wheel in motion by attacking the first grapes into the cellar with a slight twist on fermentation to the way we approached Merlot last year.

Check it out in this video.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Merlot Voodoo

Date: Tue, Mar 16, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Vintage 2010 has started, so there is a ton of action in the cellar, and more than a few new ideas floating around in the minds of the winemaking team this year.

Rianie has come back from her trip to the Napa full of experimental leanings, and has set the wheel in motion by attacking the first grapes into the cellar with a slight twist on fermentation to the way we approached Merlot last year.

Check it out in this video.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

All hands on deck!

Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



No-one is exempt from getting their hands dirty at Dombeya. During harvest, when grapes start coming in at a rate of knots, even the admin team get a call up to the sorting table. That is just the lot of the small producer, and of the unpredictable but exhilirating time of year that is vintage.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

All hands on deck!

Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



No-one is exempt from getting their hands dirty at Dombeya. During harvest, when grapes start coming in at a rate of knots, even the admin team get a call up to the sorting table. That is just the lot of the small producer, and of the unpredictable but exhilirating time of year that is vintage.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Vintage 2010- With a bullet!

Date: Fri, Mar 5, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Well, vintage is here and it has come with a rush. Everything is ripening at the same time and that means all hands on deck in the winery when the grapes start coming in.

This was the first batch of fruit for the year, some early ripening Merlot, and what we are showing here is the process of getting it from grape bunch to individual berry and into the fermentation tank.

Part of that process at Dombeya is making sure that all the undesirable bits (leaves, stones, stems, bugs, even snails!) don't make it into the ferment. That's why we have a sorting table- it just adds that extra element of quality to our winemaking, ensuring that we can maximise quality to the highest degree.

Check the process out in action by clicking on the screen.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Vintage 2010- With a bullet!

Date: Fri, Mar 5, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Well, vintage is here and it has come with a rush. Everything is ripening at the same time and that means all hands on deck in the winery when the grapes start coming in.

This was the first batch of fruit for the year, some early ripening Merlot, and what we are showing here is the process of getting it from grape bunch to individual berry and into the fermentation tank.

Part of that process at Dombeya is making sure that all the undesirable bits (leaves, stones, stems, bugs, even snails!) don't make it into the ferment. That's why we have a sorting table- it just adds that extra element of quality to our winemaking, ensuring that we can maximise quality to the highest degree.

Check the process out in action by clicking on the screen.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Wine Entre Femme 2010

Date: Fri, Feb 12, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling




Award-winning winemaker Rianie Strydom of Haskell Vineyards has just returned from Napa Valley, where she was the first South African delegate to an annual get-together for women in wine, previously limited to those from Bordeaux and California. When I reported in Alliance Française on their last event in Bordeaux in January 2009, they had no name. Now they have chosen the name Wine Entre Femme and this year also included Asli Odman from Kavaklidere in Turkey, Ayana Misawa from Grace winery in Japan and four delegates from Switzerland as well as 15 from such Bordeaux enterprises as Chx Kirwan, Angélus and Coutet. As chief organiser Sharon Harris of Amici Cellars (click here) puts it, 'this event is about sharing and learning so we improve the wines we make and our ability to grow the market for wine worldwide'. Below are Rianie's impressions of her trip.

It was an honour to be nominated. I learnt a great deal and made many new friends from whom I will continue gaining knowledge as well as sharing it. The Napa woman are very proud of their businesses and are very informed about their field, a true inspiration to anyone who attended. I hope that I will stay part of this organisation in the future to take up the opportunity to explore and learn about other parts of the world where women share the same passion and commitment I have just experienced. It would be a loss if this organisation cannot continue and grow in the future.

What I learnt started with the Napa Green initiative, which is similar to what we do in South Africa with IPW but in the Napa Valley there is also an initiative designed to protect land for agricultural purposes only. The latter is something that we are not doing yet, or not as far as I know. This is something that can become of great importance in the future.
Green innovations covered fish-friendly farming and biodynamic farming. The former is to test all run-off water from farms before it reaches the rivers and tiny streams. This initiative claims that if the fish are happy and the populations in the rivers as expected, then all farming practices are done well. The interesting thing they discovered was that most sediment was dust coming from unused dirt roads instead of pesticide sediment. It seemed to me that wherever we went, biodynamic farming was the main aim. Robert Sinskey Vineyards uses sheep to graze on the grass from the cover crop. This keeps the cover crop down and also prevents excessive frost. It seems that all growers use a mixture of peas, grass, wheat, etc put together, depending what the needs are for the soil. Cover crops will also stretch to right under the vines whereas we would only have it in the working row. We grow mostly only one kind of grass. Cover crop is mowed down instead of being sprayed by weed killer.

All aspects of vineyard management were covered by Linda Neal, Remi Cohen, Mary Maher and Jennifer Williams. Nothing goes untouched and without careful thought.

The most interesting talk on the Saturday afternoon was presented by Thibaut Scholasch from Fruition Science on 'sap flow' as a means to determine the vines' need for water rather than the other older alternative methods. I have not seen this been used in South Africa. This is technology that has been around for quite a while, but before it was quite a lengthy process to determine the flow in the vine. New technology and a better machine make this now more accessible.

The Sunday morning we were treated to some of the most spectacular small wineries I have ever seen, Ovid and Dana (the old Livingstone winery which has recently been renovated and where this photograph of the group was taken). Seeing all the thought and technology that had gone into the planning of these wineries made me want to start harvesting immediately. The tasting at Robert Mondavi, conducted by Genevieve Janssens, gave a great perspective on the styles of wine that were made a couple of years back and what is made at present.
We had a very interesting talk on tannins and the ripening cycle prior to picking by Steve Price. This is definitely something I will discuss with our lab in SA to establish this tool as part of our quest to make better wine by picking at better phenolic ripeness. The panel discussing this tannin management in real practice consisted of Pam Starr, who covered practices to prevent any unnecessary extraction prior to crushing, Genevieve Janssens, Celia Welch, Ashley Hepworth and Sandi Belcher. Other topics included the automation of pump overs and the systems they have put in place over the years and pressing. All these women have a great knowledge of their field and know what practices work best for the grapes and the areas they work in.
The visit and tasting at Chateau Montelena was the highlight of the day.

The last day covered all aspects of marketing and I think most of us got the most out of this day. It is a field that, maybe because of the positions we have as winemakers, we do not spend a lot of time on. After this day I realised that this should not be the case.

I cannot write about all the aspects, but I surely was impressed with all that was done for us. It will be a tough one to improve on, but I do hope this will continue in the future.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Wine Entre Femme 2010

Date: Fri, Feb 12, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling




Award-winning winemaker Rianie Strydom of Haskell Vineyards has just returned from Napa Valley, where she was the first South African delegate to an annual get-together for women in wine, previously limited to those from Bordeaux and California. When I reported in Alliance Française on their last event in Bordeaux in January 2009, they had no name. Now they have chosen the name Wine Entre Femme and this year also included Asli Odman from Kavaklidere in Turkey, Ayana Misawa from Grace winery in Japan and four delegates from Switzerland as well as 15 from such Bordeaux enterprises as Chx Kirwan, Angélus and Coutet. As chief organiser Sharon Harris of Amici Cellars (click here) puts it, 'this event is about sharing and learning so we improve the wines we make and our ability to grow the market for wine worldwide'. Below are Rianie's impressions of her trip.

It was an honour to be nominated. I learnt a great deal and made many new friends from whom I will continue gaining knowledge as well as sharing it. The Napa woman are very proud of their businesses and are very informed about their field, a true inspiration to anyone who attended. I hope that I will stay part of this organisation in the future to take up the opportunity to explore and learn about other parts of the world where women share the same passion and commitment I have just experienced. It would be a loss if this organisation cannot continue and grow in the future.

What I learnt started with the Napa Green initiative, which is similar to what we do in South Africa with IPW but in the Napa Valley there is also an initiative designed to protect land for agricultural purposes only. The latter is something that we are not doing yet, or not as far as I know. This is something that can become of great importance in the future.
Green innovations covered fish-friendly farming and biodynamic farming. The former is to test all run-off water from farms before it reaches the rivers and tiny streams. This initiative claims that if the fish are happy and the populations in the rivers as expected, then all farming practices are done well. The interesting thing they discovered was that most sediment was dust coming from unused dirt roads instead of pesticide sediment. It seemed to me that wherever we went, biodynamic farming was the main aim. Robert Sinskey Vineyards uses sheep to graze on the grass from the cover crop. This keeps the cover crop down and also prevents excessive frost. It seems that all growers use a mixture of peas, grass, wheat, etc put together, depending what the needs are for the soil. Cover crops will also stretch to right under the vines whereas we would only have it in the working row. We grow mostly only one kind of grass. Cover crop is mowed down instead of being sprayed by weed killer.

All aspects of vineyard management were covered by Linda Neal, Remi Cohen, Mary Maher and Jennifer Williams. Nothing goes untouched and without careful thought.

The most interesting talk on the Saturday afternoon was presented by Thibaut Scholasch from Fruition Science on 'sap flow' as a means to determine the vines' need for water rather than the other older alternative methods. I have not seen this been used in South Africa. This is technology that has been around for quite a while, but before it was quite a lengthy process to determine the flow in the vine. New technology and a better machine make this now more accessible.

The Sunday morning we were treated to some of the most spectacular small wineries I have ever seen, Ovid and Dana (the old Livingstone winery which has recently been renovated and where this photograph of the group was taken). Seeing all the thought and technology that had gone into the planning of these wineries made me want to start harvesting immediately. The tasting at Robert Mondavi, conducted by Genevieve Janssens, gave a great perspective on the styles of wine that were made a couple of years back and what is made at present.
We had a very interesting talk on tannins and the ripening cycle prior to picking by Steve Price. This is definitely something I will discuss with our lab in SA to establish this tool as part of our quest to make better wine by picking at better phenolic ripeness. The panel discussing this tannin management in real practice consisted of Pam Starr, who covered practices to prevent any unnecessary extraction prior to crushing, Genevieve Janssens, Celia Welch, Ashley Hepworth and Sandi Belcher. Other topics included the automation of pump overs and the systems they have put in place over the years and pressing. All these women have a great knowledge of their field and know what practices work best for the grapes and the areas they work in.
The visit and tasting at Chateau Montelena was the highlight of the day.

The last day covered all aspects of marketing and I think most of us got the most out of this day. It is a field that, maybe because of the positions we have as winemakers, we do not spend a lot of time on. After this day I realised that this should not be the case.

I cannot write about all the aspects, but I surely was impressed with all that was done for us. It will be a tough one to improve on, but I do hope this will continue in the future.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Rianie Strydom nominated for Napa Valley workshop

Date: Thu, Feb 4, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Rianie Strydom, celebrated winemaker for two of South Africa's top brands, Haskell and Dombeya in Stellenbosch has been invited to attend the Wine Entre Femme gathering, taking place in Napa Valley California, from January the 29th, until February the 2nd, 2010.

Wine Entre Femme is an informal and non-competitive gathering of women in wine who have a strong desire to make connections, share ideas, information and support other women in wine.

Rianie is the first South African woman in wine to enjoy this honour, after being nominated by United Kingdom wine guru, Jancis Robinson MW. Women winemakers and vintners from around the world will gather with leading winemakers and vintners from the Napa Valley for three days of workshops, tastings, seminars and networking, culminating in a trade and press tasting representative of more than 50 labels, on February 2nd, at the Metropolitan Club in San Francisco.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Rianie Strydom nominated for Napa Valley workshop

Date: Thu, Feb 4, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



Rianie Strydom, celebrated winemaker for two of South Africa's top brands, Haskell and Dombeya in Stellenbosch has been invited to attend the Wine Entre Femme gathering, taking place in Napa Valley California, from January the 29th, until February the 2nd, 2010.

Wine Entre Femme is an informal and non-competitive gathering of women in wine who have a strong desire to make connections, share ideas, information and support other women in wine.

Rianie is the first South African woman in wine to enjoy this honour, after being nominated by United Kingdom wine guru, Jancis Robinson MW. Women winemakers and vintners from around the world will gather with leading winemakers and vintners from the Napa Valley for three days of workshops, tastings, seminars and networking, culminating in a trade and press tasting representative of more than 50 labels, on February 2nd, at the Metropolitan Club in San Francisco.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

For the love of Dombeya

Date: Thu, Jan 14, 2010 Winery Blogs

by Angie Tieling



One of the great things about this business is the passion of the people in and around it. Very rarely do you find anyone involved on the winemaking and viticultural side who isn't in some way besotted with the possibility and mystery of wine. More often than not such people infect others with their passion- sometimes people just find their way to wine of their own accord. Either way, once it has got you hooked, the wine bug doesn't let go without a fight, but then again, who wants to find a cure anyway!

We love receiving messages like this one below. And we don't know where or how Nonhlanha found her love of wine, only that we're glad she's found us.

I love my chardonnay, I think it is the sexiest varietal that we were blessed with, I was looking for a chardonnay that will sweep my feet away, the love of my life...
A wine that I can take to the next brunch, braai with pride and excitement, that friends will enjoy and will put it on the list to buy..
Sometimes it's strange how you find love..
As usual after a month or two, I visit Makro Woodmead and/or Winesense Melrose to stock up, basically buying wines that were recommended by friends or best views from Wine magazine etc..
This time around I decided to ask one of the wine packers at Makro to recommend a good chardonnay or uMakoya...
I bought one bottle because I didn't trust his recommendation and really bought the wine to please him...
I was not disappointed in fact I have learned not to take people for granted... I wish I have asked for his name so that I can thank him...
I have bought a couple of bottles, 'cause I'm still excited
I have 2 or 3 bottles of my favourite wine in my boot due to the poor wine list of some of the Jo'burg restaurants and Dombeya Chardonnay 2007 included
I have found the love of my life,
This is the wine that when I have a sip, all the emotions of excitement come back and you share the tears of joy...
Thank you very much to the wine maker and to the terroir that has produced such DIVA!!!!!!!


Nonhlanhla Mzolo

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