Dave Hidden bought a grape farm at Elim. Whilst visiting the nearby Cape Agulhas lighthouse one day, he had an idea.
‘Why grow grapes down here and take them back to our cellars in Stellenbosch? Why not make the wine but mature it right here under the sea?”
He's idea became an inspiration. He decided to make the sea an integral part of the wine-making process in a way that had never been attempted before.
Whisky-makers leave their maturation barrels on the quayside for the waves to crash over them and infuse them with the flavours of the sea. However, no-one has matured wine whilst still in barrels below the waves.
Hidden sought people provided technical assistance on how to sink a barrel of wine into rough sea.
The perfect environment
The Cape Agulhas is not only the southernmost tip of Africa, it is also where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Agulhas is an ideal underwater and natural environment for red wine, as the 13ºC and the humidity is constant.
How will the barrique survive?
A container was built that withstand high pressures and vigorous wave action, therefore preventing wine from being contaminated by the salt water. A 225-litre French oak barrique was entombed in a resistant concrete cask, into which holes had been designed to allow seawater to enter, circulate and permeate the oak. It was placed on a rocky reef to ensure the heavy container not sink into the soft sand of the sea bottom. The exterior prevented the barrique from being shattered by underwater currents and a massive lid with stainless steel bolts, acted as a deterrent to marine poachers.
Marine poaching is high in this area, and therfore a great white shark-breeding area was chosen to further protect the maturing wine.
After 15 months submerged in the Agulhas currents, the barrel was retrieved on 9 March 2012. Winemaker Emma Moffat and an anxious cellar staff carefully opened the sea-weathered barrique and the wine had survived.
It was recently put into specially imported bottles and stored in the bottle-maturation cellar.
Shipwreck Shiraz 2009: R900 per bottle.
Wine tasting at Hidden Valley Wines:
Monday - Sunday 09:00 - 1700
For more information on Hidden Valley Wines contact 021 880 2646 or firstname.lastname@example.org