Wonder wine of the South
Wonder wine of the South
03 June 2019 | Tourism
Imagine an oasis nestled in the world’s oldest desert - natural fresh water springs, their crystal-clear water sparkling beneath the fronds of lush palm trees, with dazzling vines swaying in the gentle desert breeze against the backdrop of the Naukluft Mountains. Welcome to Neuras Wine and Wildlife estate.
In 2009 N/a'an ku sê’s co-founders Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren with their partners Chris Heunis, Jannes Brandt and Jan Verburg started looking for a piece of land in the south west of Namibia. Their successful reintroduction of cheetah, leopard and brown hyena into the arid Namib convinced them that this region could eventually become a model for conservation that would fit in with the unique conservation vision of N/a'an ku sê (a word from the Ju|'hoan dialect, meaning “God watches over us”).
The estate is situated on a geological fault which makes for a near-perfect terroir for cultivating grapes. Five natural springs provide pure water (providing between 40000 and 50000 litres of water per day), while the surrounding mountains shield the earth from the unforgiving desert wind and the alkaline soil is perfect for vine.
121 years old, Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate (Neuras in the Koikoi language being a “place of abandoned water”) is one of the driest vineyards in the world, and it’s in this desert paradise that the N/a'an ku sê Foundation has combined the production of exclusive wines with the preservation practices which make Namibia the conservation mecca it is today.
Just as the quality of wines depends on the perfect combination of pure water, fertile soil and an ideal climate, so conservation relies on pure passion and an ideal measure of ingenuity and innovation.
The Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate bottles six wines: the Neuras Shiraz, Neuras Red Blend, Neuras Triple Clone Shiraz, Neuras Triple Cultivar (SMG) Blend, Neuras Ruby Dessert Wine and a Neuras Rosé. Although situated on the edge of the Namib Desert, the unique microclimate of Neuras makes the production of Red wines possible. The cool west wind blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean cools the plantation down to as low as 8 to 10 degrees Celsius at night; this cooling down effect allows the grapes to ripen much later than they would normally do in similar climatic conditions. Due to the extreme day time heat, it is not possible to produce white wine on Neuras.
In addition to the red wines produced by Neuras, the winery also produces a Ruby Dessert Wine, a 2015 Late Bottled Vintage Dessert Wine, a Dark Spiced Rum and a 5 year Pot Still Brandy. Neuras produces approximately 4000-5000 bottles per year, with the complete harvesting and wine making process being a manual process conducted on the farm by Neuras employees.
A full wine tour takes you through the vineyard and to the fountains and on to the wine cellar. It is concluded by the tasting of Neuras’ red wines which are supplemented by a cheese platter. But this is not the only novelty on offer to the visitor.
A thrilling highlight is the cheetah feeding session. After entering the enclosure in a game viewing vehicle, guests are driven to a viewing platform, while being pursued by the seven resident cheetahs. Spending time with- and being surrounded by cheetahs at eye level, guests are taught of this magnificent and graceful species - for a moment the fight for survival is forgotten. This experience presents amazing photo opportunities.
Neuras presents itself in a down-to-earth milieu with the old homestead having remained intact. Geese and peacocks roam freely on the lawn. There is no electricity supply from the national power grid - the whole estate relies exclusively on solar power. The old, cemented storage dam has been converted into a swimming pool with the old windmill still holding its own next to it - typical characteristics of the Namibian countryside.
The estate offers six rustic chalets as well as two luxury units. As part of this accommodation you are entitled to enjoy a fresh buffet breakfast and a three-course dinner, unless you choose to book yourself on a self-catering basis in one of the luxury units. Guests can enjoy home-cooked Namibian meals and experience the simple joy of local cuisine combined with elegance and refinement.
N/a'an ku sê Collection offers visitors the chance to become actively involved in the country’s conservation projects. Through the volunteering programmes, guests have the opportunity to be involved with restoring the environment and landscapes, while preserving wildlife and cultural heritage of Namibia. You will meet like-minded people and learn more about this beautiful country.
In thus typical fashion the ancient canyons with their fascinating geological formations found on Neuras, provide marvellous opportunities for nature hikes and outings. Neuras is part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Project, which is a unique network of forest conservation initiatives supported by 53 member countries of the Commonwealth. The aim is to prevent and reverse the effect of deforestation and desertification as well as raising awareness for endangered species and highlighting the critical role, which all plant life plays within our fragile ecosystem.
Neuras is a green as it gets. Besides their magnificent wines, Neuras is in the process of starting their own cheese production. Already 30 Swiss Goats roam freely on the property. And the newest endeavor is about to kick off this year: mushroom farming. The idea is to add vegetable patches in the near future to supply fresh produce to the farm kitchen. The main aim of Neuras Wine and Wildlife estate is to be as self-sufficient and eco-friendly as possible. An approach, which Namibia and the rest of the world, would be well-advised to copy and follow.
For more information, send an email to [email protected]
WINE PRODUCTION TIMELINE
- After the harvest in January/February, the vines are left to relax and become dormant during the winter months
- Pruning starts in June/July
- Topping in September
- Flowering in October/November
- Grape formation in December
- Harvest in January/February