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Q&A with The Winery of Good Hope's Co-founder and Co-owner Alex Dale

Co-founder and Co-owner of The Winery of Good Hope, Alex Dale, tells us a bit more about his philosophy and why he emphasises ‘wine with a conscience’.

07 May 2015

Press release.

This year The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show – the fastest-growing national wine exhibition that returns to Jo’burg for its 10th consecutive time between 7th and 9th May − will showcase a host of different local winemakers at the Sandton Convention Centre. One of the wineries that will be featured is The Winery of Good Hope.

You say that The Winery of Good Hope is more than just a winery; it is rather an approach and an alternative way of thinking. How so? The Winery of Good Hope makes wines which are produced with a holistic approach to ethics, sustainability, innovation, tradition, individuality and integrity. Status and spectacle are completely eschewed.
What exactly is natural winemaking? In its briefest form, it is the production of wine - to the greatest possible degree - in the absence of synthetic products, chemicals and additions. This allows the influence of provenance, geology, nature and climate to pervade its character and to deliver a wine that is as authentic and ‘unmanipulated’ as possible, every vintage.

Explain a bit about the terroir in your area. Elgin’s natural attributes (terroir and climate) combine to produce wines of greater finesse, crisper acidities and more finely tuned aromas. The Swartland favours more gutsy, robust and spicy wines, brawn as well as brains, while allowing for harmony in blends as much as, if not more so, than in single varietals. The Helderberg is situated as much physically as character-wise between the two, allowing for the best of both worlds and a great diversity of styles.    

Why the decision to have four different wine brands from one winery? Each of our ranges carry a separate message and different focus. If we lumped everything into one identity, we would lose the individuality and purpose of those ranges, while causing vagueness and ultimately confusion. By being more complex on the surface, we’re in fact being much clearer in depth.

How do the wines under Radford Dale, Land of Hope, Vinum Africa & The Winery of Good Hope differ? Each of our ranges always offer value for money, simply at different levels. The Winery of Good Hope range offers the most down-to-earth and affordable wines we make; those we drink the most often and which offer incredible value for money. Our Vinum wines are a notch-up in terms of intensity, while remaining approachable and very affordable. The Land of Hope wines exist to feed our Educational Trust and to underpin our ethical and social upliftment emphasis as a Winery, while exuding quality and individuality. The Radford Dale range is the epitome of what we produce and what we aspire to. It is the most diverse, consisting of many entirely different characters and stretches our abilities to our limits. It is our ultimate studio for crafting non-interventionist and naturally produced wines. Combined, these wines represent our contribution to the increasing individualism and prominence of fine wines emanating from the Cape.

Tell us briefly about the flavour profiles from your Winery of Good Hope wines. They tend to be understated, subtle and at times ephemeral. Our wines tend to be lower in alcohol, across the board (from 11 to 13.5 typically), more delicate and certainly less “in-your-face”. Grace as opposed to force, light as opposed to heavy, fine as opposed to muscular. We like refreshing, moreish wines as opposed to blockbusters and wines that can be shared.

What makes your Radford Dale Nudity release different from your other wines? No additions of any kind were made during the vinification or maturation of this wine; no sulphur, no yeast, no additives of any type, exposing this wine only to its most natural of states. Our Radford Dale Nudity Syrah 2014 is a wonderfully expressive, complex and elegant natural wine of dark red fruits, intriguing fynbos and shrub aromas. With this wine we put ourselves to the test; could we produce wines which truly reflect our ideals, in the purest and most basic form, walking the walk fully as opposed to just talking the talk…?

Tell us a bit about the new addition, Thirst. It started as a single, light red wine, made from the rare (in this country) Gamay grape. It is not a Rosé but a refreshingly elegant and surprisingly complex red wine, with purity and delicacy which is not usually associated with reds in this country. Our maiden release, the 2014 Thirst Gamay, was 11.3 alcohol, unfiltered, naturally fermented and low in sulphur. Fruity but light, refreshing but not trivial, complex yet down to earth. A great character and totally approachable at all levels.

What are some of the environmental, ethical and social upliftment practices that you adopt? We tend to do things because we believe in them as opposed to doing so for appearances or because of legislation (or the threat of legislation). We’ve always espoused sustainability in agriculture and we continue to upgrade the vines and vineyards and growers we work with in this regard. This involves practices in greater harmony with nature and ever less steered by chemically-driven agriculture. We adhere to the IWP and WIETA certifications which are industry standards. We continue to invest in areas of social upliftment and education; our Land of Hope Trust is a prime example of this and we currently fund the education from pre-primary school to university of all the children and dependents of our PDI employees (Previously Disadvantaged Individuals).

Close on two dozen wines from The Winery of Good Hope will be featured at the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show in Jo’burg. Tickets are available in advance through or at the door and include a 10th year crystal tasting glass, all tastings, access to the Wine Extra Theatre and a map to help navigate the show.

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