Sometimes people step out of their cars in our parking lot, take a look around and wonder where the grapes are. Besides a tiny patch of vines visible through the windows of the restaurant, our grapes actually take a 10 km ride from Babylon farm up the road in order to reach our cellar.
Speaking of Babylon farm… We would be amiss if we did not take this opportunity to tell you a few really interesting things about the spot of land responsible for growing the magnificent grapes we turn into our award-winning wines. For starters, the farm is located in an area known as the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, which is slightly different from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Ocean breezes make for cool temperatures and the area has quite a high rainfall.
With almost 44 hectares under vineyard, the high rainfall comes in very handy since we make use dryland farming. That’s right – no irrigation. Our vines might yield less fruit per hectare as a result, but the quality is so much better. And the better the fruit, the better the wine. The use of a tramlines system to trellis the vines ensures high density plantings to accommodate more vines per hectare, so we can make up for the lower yield.
But perhaps most impressively is that we grow no less than 10 different cultivars on our little patch between heaven and earth. The region is famous for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but we also grow Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Semillon and Riesling. Come harvest season our team has their work cut out for them, because each of these beauties is treated with the individual love and care it deserves.
Book your stay
You can visit Babylon Farm
The beautiful cottage on Babylon Farm is ready for your visit. It is perfect for a family or a couple’s getaway. Sit back with a good book while taking in the spectacular views of the vineyards and Babylon’s Tower Mountain. Or, explore a few of the wine estates of the Heme-en-Aarde Valley every day. (There are quite a few, so take it slow!) We guarantee you will come away refreshed and revitalised. The self-catering cottage can accommodate up to 7 guests in its three beautiful bedrooms, each with their own on-suite bathroom.
Visit the Country Escapes website to book your stay.
Christo Kotze joined the La Vierge team as an assistant winemaker back in 2017. But his winemaking story took a long and winding meander through many vineyards before he ended up here. After attaining his degree from Stellenbosch University he completed his first harvest at Rust en Vrede and from there onwards to Rustenburg Wines. Yet, adventure called this wide-eyed wanderer and he exchanged biltong and braai culture to gain experience in vineyards both in Australia and the USA. These experiences not only taught him invaluable lessons, but cemented his own winemaking philosophy.
Fast forward to 2017… Christo had returned to sunny South Africa and accepted an offer to join the La Vierge team. He barely settled into this role when things changed suddenly and we found ourselves in need of a winemaker. He immediately stepped into this challenging, yet rewarding role. And it truly fits him like a glove.
It doesn’t happen often that young winemakers get the opportunity to run their own show – to make independent decisions and implement the techniques they prefer. Over the last few years, Christo (only in his early 30s now) has proven that he is not only capable, but indeed a player that will in time leave big footprints for others to follow in.
How did it happen then that, with him at the steer of things in the cellar, La Vierge wines have shown such great improvement? That’s an easy question to answer… It’s his simple approach of going back to basics. Christo is an intellectual. His unique way of assessing everything from the condition of the vines, to the quality of the grapes harvested, allows him to see the bigger picture and to simplify it instead of overcomplicating things. He is also lovingly described by some (who shall remain anonymous) as being somewhat of a control freak. So it helps that he keeps a close eye on every step of the process. Quality could very well be his middle name.
“We are very fortunate to have Christo on our team. His keenness to learn, technical insight and perfectionist attitude benefits us greatly,” says general manager, Tania Theron-Joubert. “He has an exceptional pallet. I truly believe that he will become a force to be reckoned with as he sharpens his skills here at La Vierge.” We are tremendously happy that this young, but experienced wizard of a winemaker calls our little spot between heaven and earth his home.