Nico Fourie is a farmer, first and foremost.
In Limpopo, he farmed with tomatoes. As a farmer, you learn to become one with nature through your utter dependence on it. You read the soil, the clouds in the sky and you become intimately familiar with what the fruit is telling you about the favourability of its environment. Nico spent years learning the language of a tomato in Limpopo. And then, just as he figured it out….. he bought a farm at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains in the Klein Karoo with the intention of making wine!
The farm was bought in 1998 from the South African Breweries who used it at a hopps farm. In 1999, the first vineyards were planted and in 2003, Herold Wines produced its first bottle of wine.
Nico, a former tomato farmer will be the first person to tell you that his knowledge of working a vineyard and making wine was lacking:
“Before I started making wine, I was not aware of wine cultivars. I was under the impression that in order to make a Pinotage as supposed to a Shiraz, you just need to do something different to the grape”
But if you have ever met a South African farmer, you would know that they are a resourceful bunch, never shying away from a challenge. This they approach with a humble confidence.
So, he started to cultivate a new relationship with a new fruit. Learning the language of the vineyard with the assistance of the ones that came before him, absorbing as much knowledge as he possibly could and implementing it in his efforts.
In the vineyard, he decided not to use any pesticides and opted for more natural forms of pest control. The same principle is carried through to his wine making process where white wines are left to ferment naturally with limited inoculation used in the fermentation of red wine cultivars.
There are no preset formulae. Each bottle of wine is the truest reflection of the characteristics of its harvest year. As intended with the craft of wine making in its purest form, the wine maker allows himself to be guided by the properties of each harvest. His role is to merely assist the grape to bring forth the best that it has to offer. It is indeed a humble and honest wine making process.
The result is a flagship Pinot Noir that is garnering international attention for its exceptional qualities.
Other cultivars produced by Herold Wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Each bottle of wine at Herold Wines is bottled by hand further adding to the boutique experience.
Maureen offered her impeccable hosting skills and Herold Wines opened its wine tasting bistro serving the best cheese platter I have ever had the privilege to devour. I believe the Herold Wines cheese platter has become somewhat of a talking point for people when discussing this hidden gem of a wine farm.
Old cottages on the farm were renovated to offer a taste of what makes this small yet majestic farm at the foot of the Outeniqua mountains so special. Staying here offers you the rare opportunity to free yourself from the constraints of technology and find yourself, while strolling the mountains in search of the Bushman paintings that can be found on the farm. In order to honour the gift they left behind, Herold Wines named one of their red wine blends after the painting, namely Red Men.
When visiting the farm you are immediately struck by the warm and unpretentious nature of the individuals that form part of Herold Wines. Maybe it is because they serve you wine carrying a label featuring their names in the description, in recognition for the part they played in its production.
This place is so rich in a magnitude of small personal anecdotes like the time the winemaker accidentally left the wine on the grape skins too long and a wine that was meant to be in their white wine stable, came out as a Rosè. It still tasted great, so the winemaker in his humble wisdom still bottled it and labelled it Schaam Skaap which means “Embarrassed Sheep”. This popular wine sold out at the end of 2018. I would strongly recommend you visiting this refreshing place for yourself next time you find yourself at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains.