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AA cheeky little wine collection, very green, with a whiffling porcupine nose, voluptuous notes of caracal and owl, and a strong finish of riverine rabbit, chameleon and leopard toad, leaving a satisfying aftertaste. Said differently: there’s an inspiring project that marries South Africa’s wine estates with conservation and biodiversity. 

It’s late afternoon, and well past time to open that first bottle of South African wine. While you’re at it, raise your glass to those many local winemakers who love nature and who put their love into action. 

Nearly 90% of all South African wines are cultivated within the narrow but ecologically rich Cape Floral Kingdom that skirts the western and southern coastlines of the country. 

Two thirds of the plant species here are found nowhere else in the world. To minimise their impact on this lovely land, more than 167 winemakers have committed to the World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF's) Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that some of South Africa’s best wine estates are BWI members. 

The project boasts some impressive statistics. Nearly 126000ha on South African BWI wine estates are under conservation, compared to 102000ha under vines. 

Twenty of the estates are considered champions because they have committed more than 10% of their land to conservation. 

In addition, some of the estates have special – and sometimes whimsical – projects. 

Buy a bottle of Splattered Toad Sauvignon Blanc or a shiraz or cabernet sauvignon from Cape Point Vineyards and you’ll be helping to save the Western Leopard Toad which crosses roads to mate in August every year. 

Then there’s Boekenhoutkloof wine farm, which has a Porcupine Ridge vintage, raising funds for the study of these prickly nocturnal animals and their ecological role within the bulb-rich fynbos. 

Leopard’s Leap wines, naturally, devote money to the Cape Leopard Trust, specifically to a project examining their genetic diversity. 

Neethlingshof estate once had a problem with rodents and countered it by installing owl posts in their vineyards so that the birds could swoop down on their prey. It was a great success, which you can toast by drinking their Owl Post pinotage. 

There are plenty more stories like this, and they will make you want to celebrate. Cheers! 

Did You Know?

TTravel tips & planning  info 

Who to contact 

South African National Biodiversity Institute 

Tel: +27 (0)12 843 5000  

Email: info@sanbi.org.za  

Related links 

 

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