Perdeberg – the home of Chenin Blanc

The cellar door at Perdeberg Winery

Perdeberg Winery was founded in 1941, when after a time of low prices for their premium grapes, wine farmers in the Perdeberg [Horse Mountain] region under the leadership of one Jan Rossouw formed a co-operative winery to press their own grapes and make their own wines.  Wines of the vintage of 1942 were pressed by hand.  While things are very different now in the winery with its state of the art equipment, they still pride themselves in their hands-on apporach to the way they do things at Perdeberg.

Chenin Blanc grapes ripening on the vine

My early memories of Perdeberg are of driving in my Dad’s huge old Chevrolet truck, grinding along a dusty road, with the back filled with our Chenin Blanc grapes.  Several old family friends, who were instrumental in the founding of the winery, and some newer ones, remain suppliers today.

Later memories are of the Young Wine Shows of the 1970s and 80s where I came across Joseph Huskisson who was Winemaker at Perdeberg for almost 40 years till his retirement in 1994.  Joseph was a Chenin Blanc and Pinotage man by choice, how right he was with todays wine drinkers calling for Chenin Blanc and Pinotage moving into a new era of popularity.  Not for nothing is Perdeberg known as The Home of Chenin Blanc.

While they work hard and with much success on the wines they produce since entering the bottled wine market in 2005, Perdeberg’s pioneering approach brought in the expertise and services of a viticulturist to help choose the right cultivars, the right locations and soil types and to implement ideal grape growing and harvesting methods.  They were the first to employ a full time viticulturist in the region.  Going it alone in the bottled wine market brought Perdeberg into direct contact with their consumers and, pioneers again, their communication with the drinkers of their wines have been at the forefront of technology.  Their understanding of the market, their understanding the needs of their customers is a huge advantage in spreading about, not only the word of Perdeberg wines, but the wines themselves in the South African and indeed the overseas market.

Perdeberg Chenin Blanc 2014 in its new livery

Perdeberg Chenin Blanc 2014 in its new livery

Perdeberg Winery today is a registered company Perdeberg Group Pty Ltd with 25 Shareholders with 20 year supply contracts in place.  Their wine grape growers have some 2077 ha of vineyards in such premium winegrowing regions as Paarl, Malmesbury, Durbanville and Stellenbosch.  Of these the majority are unirrigated and more than half are bush vines which provides a low yield of about 7 to 8 tons a hectare.  Low yields, massive flavours.  True to their tradition, their signature grape, Chenin Blanc is their most planted variety, it is also the most planted white grape in the South African Vineyard.   Incidentally more than half of the Perdeberg Chenin Blanc vines are over 15 years old.  These vines produce only about 5 tons per hectare of super premium grapes.  Cape Wine Master, Wine Judge and  Wine Writer, Christine Rudman writes that Perdeberg Winery is the icon of Chenin Blanc producers in South Africa.

The Perdeberg Dry Land Collection Pinotage Premium series of wines

The Perdeberg Dry Land Collection Pinotage
Premium series of wines

Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cinsaut, Merlot also feature in the Perdeberg Vineyards.  The Pinotage vineyards are mostly un-trellised, the bush vine giving lower yields resulting in better quality wine.  The viticulturists find that in their vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon produces a better quality bunch when trellised, so most of the Cabernet vineyards are planted with a vertical trellis system.  Naturally, each vineyard block has a different micro climate due to the soil, gradient & location.  Two soils types predominate, decomposed Granite, a lighter soil type which imparts a minerality to wines is ideal for early season varieties like the signature Chenin Blanc. The other soil type is Shale, a high saline condensed soil with clay as the major component.  Clay has good water retention qualities and is most suitable for late season predominantly red varieties providing them with water in late Summer. Perdeberg was one of the first wineries in South Africa to use Remote Sensing (Arial Infrared Photography) to identify variability in vineyards, thereby giving them the opportunity to manage vineyards better to result in better wine quality.

Grapes arriving at the cellar

During peak times during the harvest the winery takes in up to 800 tons per day.  Of the some 15 million litres  of wine produced each year, 1.4 million litres are bottled under Perdeberg’s own labels and the remainder is sold to large scale bottlers.

Perdeberg Red maturing in the Barrel Cellar

In terms of looking after the land and the future, all of Perdeberg’s grape producers are Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) registered.  This programme shows commitment on the part of the producers towards safe and ethical practices and long-term sustainability.   Perdeberg Winery also became the second Cooperative Winery in South Africa to achieve the Biodiversity Wine Initiative (BWI) membership and now has 1 hectare of conservation land for every 3 hectares of vineyards.  One of Perdeberg’s producers together with Cape Nature and other conservation institutions established  the first tortoise reserve in 1972.  Others are involved in the Perdeberg Conservation area showing the commitment to conservation.  Most producers actively remove alien plants like Port Jackson from their farms.  The  Winery and all its producers are WIETA registered (Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association) and as a result contribute to ethical trade, freedom of speech, prohibition of child labour and ensuring safe & healthy working conditions.

Bush vine harvesting

The Awards cabinet of the winery rattles with prizes, awards, trophies from wine show as far afield as China, Berlin and San Francisco.

To read more about Perdeberg Wines, click here.

Perdeberg has a joint venture with Reh Kendermann in Germany, for whom they produce a range of Waka Waka wines, click here to read more about WakaWaka Wines.

Waka Waka Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Perdeberg also has a joint venture with well known South African golfer David Frost, click here to read more about the David Frost Wines.

David Frost Signature Series Chenin Blanc 2012

Click here to watch a short video about Perdeberg.

Click here to listen to a podcast about Perdeberg Wines

Perdeberg Winery is situated on Vryguns Farm,Windmeul, Paarl, 7630

Wine Tasting Opening Hours

Monday to Friday from 08:00 to17:00 and Saturdays from 09:30 to 14:00.  The Tasting Room is closed on religious public holidays

Postal address: PO Box: 214, Paarl, 7620
Tel: 021 869 8244 or 869 8112

GPS coordinates

Latitude:  S 33° 39′ 30.00″  (-33.658333)

Longitude: E 18° 49′ 37.00″  (18.826944)

April 30th, 2013|Categories: Winery partners|Tags: |