Namibian Wine Growers Association is Born

Press Release
11.23.2013

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:Mr. Heiko Pfafferott – 081-2321494 or heikopfafferott@gmail.com.

 NAMIBIAN WINE GROWERS ASSOCIATION IS BORN

[OTJIWARONGO, Namibia – 23 November 2013] – A tradition that began in Namibia in 1884 comes back as pioneering wine makers announced the establishment of the Namibian Wine Growers Association (NAWGA) on 15 August. At their second meeting on the 23rd of November in Otjwarongo , the informal association, founded by four Namibian winemakers, aims to develop and motivate others by supporting the industry of grape growers and wine makers.
The NAWGA’s founders are: Mr. Michael Weder, owner of Kristall Kellerei winery in Omaruru and Chairman of the association; Dr Bertus Boshoff, owner of Thonningii winery farm and Vice Chair and Treasurer of the association; Mr. Heiko Pfafferott, trained viticulturist (grape grower )and oenologist (winemaker) from Otjiwarongo charged with Research; and Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and Secretariat of the association.
“At the founding meeting, the group discussed a new winery brochure (3 wineries in the country), and ways to help promote the art of viticulture by pulling together collective knowledge,” said Mr. Weder. “In this way, our association seeks to contribute to the Namibian economy by teaching others about grape growing and wine making.” The group also reviewed different kinds of grapes, and the history of grape growing in Namibia and its current status.
The history of the wine industry in Namibia dates back to 1884, when German Catholic priests planted the first vineyards on the land of today’s St Paul’s College in the Klein Windhoek Valley. Production stopped in 1978 with the death of the last wine-making priest. In 1904, the German government encouraged growing of grapes and olives, as did the South African government in the 1950s. However, due to Namibia’s arid weather, attention was turned to South Africa. Pre-independance Namibia was actually prohibited from growing grapes to protect the South African wine industry. In 1990, the Kristall Kellerei winery was founded in Omaruru by Helmuth Kluge. Kristall Kellerei, purchased in 2008 by NAWGA’s Chair, Mr. Weder, continues to produce quality wines with Colombard grapes, and a unique red blend, the Paradise Flycatcher and various fine spirits.
In addition to Kristall Kellerei, Namibia’s Wine Route currently comprises two other wineries: the Thonningii Cellar in Otavi, owned by NAWGA’s Vice Chair, Dr Bertus Boshoff, and Neuras: N/a’an ku sé Wine and Wildlife Estate, on the edge of the Namib Desert. The Cheetah Conservation Fund planted its first vines in 2005, and has produced two harvests the past two years. And, in 2009, Heiko Pfafferott planted 1000 shiraz vines on ½ ha at farm Ahrensburg near Otjiwarongo expecting his first harvest in 2014, producing under the cellar name of Omumbara.
“Growing grapes is a potential diversified livelihood for farmers,” according to Dr. Laurie Marker. “Grapes can be dried farmed using drip irrigation because they have very deep roots once you get them established, and they will produce grapes after about five years at an average of about 2,000 vines per hectare.”
At their second meeting, Heiko Pfafferott, who after growing up in Otjiwarongo graduated from University in Cape Town with a degree in viticulture and oenology, stated that “with the selection of hardy and drought resist varietal grapes, along with the development of skills and a long-term investment, the development of a small but growing wine industry is possible in Namibia. “ World-wide, grape growing and wine making is an art and life style that Namibia is also now embracing.
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Editor’s Notes:
About the Founders of the Namibian Wine Growers Association (NAWGA):
Michael Weder (Chair) and his wife Katrin, manage the Kristall Kellerei winery, founded in 1990 and purchased by the Weder family in 2008. The wineyard located in Omaruru, produces small batches of high quality wine and spirits with a distinct Namibian character. The winery produces wines using Colombard, and a blend Ruby Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tinta Borraca. In addition, Weder takes wine making a step farther by taking an experimental approach to wine production, and has just planted Petite Verdot and expect it to produce in 2014. Kristal Kellerei is open to the public for tastings and tours, as well as a light lunch. Tours are always given personally by Michael and Katrin.
Dr Bertus Boshoff (Vice Chair) and his wife Ebby own the Thonningii wine farm in the Otavi Valley. Boshoff, a medical doctor by profession, is passionate about wine, and began experimenting with grapes in 1998, finding that Shiraz-making grapes were the best suited for his farm. In 2006 he began producing Viognier grapes for a white wine which the winery began producing five years later, along with a Rosé blend of Shiraz and Viognier . Thonningii offers tours and wine tastings along the Namibian Wine Route.
Heiko Pfafferott (Research), an Otjiwarongo native, is a graduate specialised in viticulture and oenology at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa). He grows Shiraz grapes on his farm near Otjiwarongo. In 2010, he started a project to test the viability of viticulture in Namibia to address challenges posed by the harsh weather. Heiko asserts that the problems associated with a climate like Namibia’s, can be solved through adapting irrigation methods.
Dr. Laurie Marker CCF (Secretariat) grew up in a farm family and studied viticulture and oenology at Napa College, California (USA). In 1973 she developed the 3rd bonded winery in Oregon and helped develop the Oregon Wine Industry. From 1993 to 1988, she co-owned and managed the Jonicole Vineyards and Winery in Oregon (USA) while also managing a wildlife park in the same area. In 1990, Marker founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund on Farm Elandsvreugde, east of Otjiwarongo, in 1994, where she has developed an integrated approach to conservation that includes scientific research, education and conservation programmes that aim to benefit cheetahs and the people who share their land with this iconic, and yet most endangered bigcat in Africa. In 2005 she planted a vineyard as a women’s project to see if vineyards might be an alternative livelihood for rural communities.
Those interested in learning more about growing grapes in Namibia, please contact: Mr. Heiko Pfafferott – 081-2321494 or heikopfafferott@gmail.com.

 

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By: CCF Staff