truffles at Seven Springs

Truffles – the vineyard dog (well one of them)

Everything you wanted to know about our vineyard managers dog, Truffles. Truffles travels everywhere with vineyard manager Peter. This article is from Michael Olivier in Cape Town.

Truffles on


South African #Braaiday Friday – Wine Passionista

Living in London one thing is certain – you can never count on the weather.  So we plan our picnics in the park and our summer cookouts and keep our fingers crossed it isn’t a washout.  Sometimes we get lucky and others, well…we don’t let a little rain dampen our spirits.  Nowhere was this more evident than at a brilliant lunch hosted recently by the Wines of South Africa (WOSA).

The invitation was to a #braaiday lunch (complete with hashtag for those avid Twitterers amongst us!) and said:

Read the full story on The Wine Passionista

Winter bottling, brrrrr.

July 5th 2012 started out much the same way any winters day in South Africa would, cold and dark. The weather however was not enough to keep me in bed, because we had some wines to bottle; namely the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Un-oaked Chardonnay and 2011 Syrah. I jumped out of bed, ready for the day, the final step, from picking the grapes to pressing and waiting for them to age in either barrel or tank until they were perfect.

Syrah capsules


The Syrah was picked last year, 2011, in March, during a heat wave, and made the familiar trip to the cellar, where it  was  crushed and pumped to the tank for fermentation. The 2011 was our second year of making Syrah, the vines were  a year  older and gave me more structure and balance in the wine. The grapes were pressed and barrelled down to  spend the next  13 months in aged French oak.

Shovelling the Sauvignon Blanc grapes out of tank and into the press




February 2012 saw the harvest of the Sauvignon Blanc and  Unoaked  Chardonnay. The first wine Seven Springs made  was a  Sauvvy and so it holds    a special place for me.  So after  VERY  carefully picking grapes of only the  best  quality, the  fruit was  transported to the cellar. The Sauvvy was pressed  and  left to  ferment in stainless steel tanks but the Un-Oaked  Chardonnay  had  a much more difficult time leaving the  vineyards . Once  loaded on the truck it  shifted precariously when we tried to drive out of the vineyard and we had to                                                                                        repack everything in the scorching sun.

I like to call it the “Almost disaster”




Thankfully Chardonnay can take a bit more of a beating than Sauvvy and it finally made it to the cellar to enjoy  the same love and attention as the Sauvvy, fermenting at cool temperatures and left to age on the lees for 4 months.

Well after all that, you can see why I breathed such a sigh of relief when my babies where finally making it into the  bottle where they are safe. On the day of bottling the air was cold and crisp and thankfully clear with no rain.  Perfect! A team of great girls came to help with the bottling and they worked with the bottled wine with such  respect, I had nothing to worry about.



The team of girls that made the day go like clockwork

Once the wine is in the bottle the capsules go on and the goodness gets sealed in, YUM!

Wise hands carefully handling the bottled wine.




25,000 bottles and 12 hours later we were tired, but more importantly, we were done and  off for a well deserved dinner and a good nights’ sleep.

Me, just keeping an eye on everything, especially the wine.

Riana van der Merwe, Winemaker

Olives and jam from Seven Springs

When we are not harvesting, we play!  – a blog by Hetta. Whilst this is not true, some things, like making  jam or pickling your own olives, may feel like it!
During the Harvest 2012, we saved some Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes, to make jam.  In South Africa (in Afrikaans) we call it “Korrelkonfyt”. 
Korrelkonfyt is wonderful with some home made bread when you have a fish-braai (barbeque).

                                    Danish Blue, crackers and homemade jam!  A winner. Mmmmmm…. Lovely!
Olive-picking at Seven Springs Vineyard.
 This is the first time we have used the salt-curing process to preserve our olives.  It is a less time consuming method of preserving olives so let’s see what they tatse like
After some time in the salt, the olives look like small dried prunes.

Our first salt-cured olives bottled with a couple of chillies.
The olives are rinsed, buckets washed and new salt solution added weekly, until we are satisfied that they are ready to go into the brine.
Waiting to be bottled in a week or so.

A super-sticky affair!

 Harvest time is a busy-busy-busy time… Sometimes super-stressed!  But  certainly always  super-busy and super-sticky!  (The super-sticky part came  from Daniela Shelton, who was  helping for a few days during the harvest)




Have you ever noticed, there’s always a dog…. Every vineyard has a dog, sleeping somewhere in a corner, wagging a tail or… checking on the quality.  This one belongs to our vineyard manager, Peter, and his name is Truffles.

Dani and Riana tweeting during a break!


Super-sticky feet.


     Dani helping to make sure only the  best ends up in the bottle.


 It’s good to see the grapes coming into the cellar and turning into wine, then…  later, much later, getting bottled.


       The mobile bottling unit turns up to bottle our 2011 Chardonnay after it has spent 12 months in oak barrels.


Bottles being filled.

                And capped.


Caps on, ready to rest!

     Riana’s baby!  But she’s always keeping a watching eye on production.

     After the super-sticky start, we now have super-clean bottles filled with super-delicious Chardonnay!


For all of you who haven’t experienced a harvest yet, you don’t know what you are missing!

It is also super-exciting!

Seven Springs Harvest 2012










    Valentine’s Day? Yes, but also and most important, harvest time at 7 Springs                  Vineyard, where our grapes get tender loving care, as you would treat your                  Valentine!

We have 4 Pinot Noir clones of which two were harvested today, clones 667 and 777. These two will give the fresh fruit component to the wine.


Clones 459 and 115 will be picked as and when they reach their full ripeness and they will make out the structural component to our Pinot Noir.

                                Everybody ready for action!







Our Pinot Noir vines are now in their 4th year,  still very young, and as a result the volumes are still small, so the grapes harvested today will ferment together in the same tank.

Some experienced hands working here, good care is taken not to squash any grapes!



Our grape pickers enjoy what they are doing and they have a real passion for this job!


Another perfect bunch!

The grapes are transported to the winery in the same crates they were gently harvested into. The gentler the grapes get handled the less breakage there is of the berries. This way we make sure we get the best results from our wonderful grapes.


Watch this space and see how our grapes transform into wine!

New technology in our vineyards

We have recently introduced Neutron Moisture Guages into our vineyards at Seven Springs. What this will do is to allow us to measure very accurately the ground moisture in all parts of our vineyards. Thus we can irrigate our vines at the optimum time and apply the exact amount of water required to maintain healthy plant growth. Our water comes from boreholes drilled into Shaws Mountain behind our vineyards, using underground streams. Accurate measurement of the ground moisture it will allow us to use our water resources responsibly ensuring increased fruit quality. We are working closely with Bokkeveld Besproeiing ( ) who have developed the software programmes for measuring soil moisture. The company is jointly owned by Piet van der Merwe, who is father of our winemaker Riana, and Jac Le Roux, with Piet being responsible for running the business in South Africa. The company specialises in irrigation scheduling for fruit, citrus, perrenials, lavendar, olives, table grapes and, of course, wine grapes. Accurate measurements and targeted irrigation (we can apply water to individual parts of our vineyards) will allow us to produce the optimum size and quality of grape which in turn will allow us to make first class wines. We are on a quest to produce some of the best wines in South Africa and this is one way we can help manage that process.

A Glass of Red, Shaws Mountain and You (a guest blog by Claire Lightfoot)

As the summer season fast approaches, thoughts of lazy afternoons on the veranda, a glass of vibrant red Pinot Noir <> in hand and laidback conversation as the sun begins to set over a sprawling mountain range, is, for many wine lovers, the very definition of Paradise. There is something instinctively soothing and rewarding about wine; it is as though our entire working day was meant to lead up to this perfect moment when the mood is Zen and the ambience, one of languid enjoyment. Although it seems that every time we turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, we are being told to curb our cravings, cut back on carbs or head speedily to the nearest gym, our body is somehow our wisest teacher and it tells us that this special moment of relaxation, is necessary. Interestingly, our almost instinctual love for wine is backed by a host of findings indicating the surprising health benefits of the drink of the Gods. In this post, we reveal that wine and its derivatives are good for so much more than your soul… but we bet you already knew that!

*Resveratrol vs Cancer:* A recent study<> by the University of Missouri School of Medicine indicates that resveratrol (a potent polyphenolic compound contained in red wine and grape skins) can make cancerous cells more susceptible to radiation treatment. The study found that melanoma cells reacted better to radiation if they had been treated previously with resveratrol. When the cancer was treated with resveratrol alone, some 44 per cent of the melanoma cells perished. When treated with both resveratrol and radiation, 65 per cent of the melanoma cells died. The scientists concluded that resveratrol could soon be used to treat a variety of cancers. The Executive Editor of Harvard Health, Patrick J. Skerrett, meanwhile, suggests that these findings don’t meant that we should rush to the pharmacy to obtain Resveratrol supplements; rather, natural  is best<> and  we should obtain our quotient of the powerful flavonoid from grapes and our favourite glass of red.

*Resveratrol had already previously been proven to be effective in fighting cancer in three stages: initiation, promotion and progression.* A study in the *International Journal of Cancer* found that men could reduce their chances of contracting prostate cancer by consuming a glass or red wine every day. Drinking four or more glasses a week could reduce the incidence of aggressive prostate cancer by an impressive 60 per cent.

*Resveratrol Boosts the Immunity: *In a study<> of  the ability of 446 different compounds to boost the innate immune system in humans, scientists at Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute found that two compounds in particular had a significant ability to raise the expression of a particular gene (cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide or CAMP), which plays an important role in immune function: resveratrol and pterostilbene (the latter can be found in blueberries). The scientists also concluded that combining these compounds with Vitamin D had significantly more impact than when used alone.

*Grapes and Wine Beautify:* Grapes and wine are all the rage at the world’s top spas<>, since they contain a potent cocktail of antioxidants, flavonoids vitamins and minerals that promote youthful skin and hair. Crushed grape seeds make an ideal exfoliant for skin while grape seed oil is a choice ingredient for a relaxing massage. Wine has also been used in upmarket hair products,
since its high antioxidant content helps fight free radicals and protect the scalp against UV rays. Grape seed oil is famed for its ability to ward off dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis and is rich in Vitamin E and linoleic acid, which are known to strengthen hair. This is particularly relevant to those with brittle or thinning hair<>, since hair loss isn’t always caused by genetics; rather, it can be related to ski conditions like severe dryness and even environmental aggressors. Simply drinking wine will do plenty to raise your beauty factor, since its immune boosting properties may stave off a host of autoimmune diseases<> that have serious consequences for the skin and hair, including dermatitis and alopecia areata.

*Resveratrol May Help Battle Obesity: *Another recent study <> published  in the *International Journal of Obesity* involved 11 obese men, who were supplemented with resveratrol of a placebo for a four-week period. Those who had taken the resveratrol showed a significant decrease in the size of fat cells, as well as a decrease in the number of very large and large fat cells. The resveratrol group also showed an increased immune and inflammatory response, which is very much in line with the previous findings mentioned above. If these findings have just about convinced you to pour yourself another glass of red, you should be aware that they are only the tip of the iceberg; previous studies had already indicated a myriad of benefits held by wine, one of the most important of which is the promotion of cardiovascular health. If your heart beats for wine, give in to its full-bodied temptation and drink your way to optimal health and wellness.

This ‘guest blog’ was written for us by Claire Lightfoot

Article in Rate That Restaurant in South Africa

Seven Springs Vineyard has just had a question and answer article published in the South African restaurant guide,, on 21st September 2010. Tim Pearson was interviewed by Bradley Crewe-Brown from the magazine giving some insight into Seven Springs and his hopes for the future. Bradley interviewed Gordon Ramsay earlier in the year when he visited the Cape but in Tims interview you will find less expletives! The full story can be read by following this link.

Tim Pearson on Haidu wine blog

Tim Pearson, of Seven Springs Vineyard, was interviewed by the up and coming wine website Haidu, Please follow this link to see the questions and answers in the interview by Assaf Dudai.