For a quarter of a century now we have grown and sourced grapes from a variety of vineyard locations in the Cape. Striving for true expression of terroir, vintage and variety, we have for many years been on a path of minimal intervention in these vineyards as well as in our cellar practices by adopting sustainable methods in our two wineries, one on the Helderberg Mountain in Stellenbosch, the other is our certified organic estate in Elgin, Radford Dale Organic. Regenerative farming is a golden thread that runs through all the sites where we work, in order to showcase an authentic sense of place in our wines as well as to ensure the longevity of the vineyards.
To us #Sustainability360 means actively implementing measures of sustainability for the three pillars of: PLACE, PEOPLE, and PROSPERITY.
Long have we chosen sustainable – in both an economical and an ecological sense – sites for Terroir Selection, Thirst and Vinum, believing happy grapes make good wine. “The land tells us what nature likes best; we follow the wisdom of the earth rather than the whim of we mere mortals,” says founder Alex Dale.
Our long-held investment in working sustainably culminated in 2021 with the
purchase of Radford Dale Organic, Elgin’s only certified organic wine estate. Located at 282 metres above sea level on undulating mountain slopes, the estate enjoys temperate climatic conditions with cold winters and warm summers creating optimal growing conditions. The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean ensures cooling coastal breezes, which further help to moderate temperatures. The organic vineyards are well established, with first plantings going back to to 2007, and are now arriving at a peak window where these vines are primed to begin producing the best grapes of the life cycle.
RDO vineyards at sunrise
Of the farm’s 20-hectares, approximately 6-ha are currently under vine. The plan is to take that total to 12-15ha within a two to three year time-frame. We have planted more Pinot Noir this winter and have just established South Africa’s first certified organic Gamay vineyard. The balance of the farmland is given over to nature and the endemic fynbos found in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. This untouched, sweeping land is the domain of the resident wildlife, which includes: caracals, buck, ducks, bees, birds of prey and more. Our Estate vineyards and wines are all certified organic by European-based certifying Agency EcoCert.
Peking ducks are our natural snail managers and newly installed bee hives add to environmental regeneration and longevity.
But don’t just take our word for it, also monitoring our ecological output is the ‘Integrated Production of Wine’ (IPW), a voluntary environmental sustainability programme established by the South African wine industry in 1998, whereby the
production practices of cellars joining the scheme are evaluated and audited by its board.
In-line with the IPW programme at both Radford Dale wineries we are lowering our carbon footprint through a variety of means:
- Through management of our water’s pH
- Use of environmentally friendly rodent control
- Implementing green cleaning solutions throughout the winery
- Cooling systems that use less harmful gases as well as filtering materials and sulphurs
- Considered packaging options from lightweight bottles to recycled materials.
- Traceability for all dry and wet goods leaving the cellar.
Hand sorting at the RDO cellar
Furthermore you will see the 'sustainability seal' on our bottles, it means the Wine and Spirit Board, appointed by the Department of Agriculture, certifies that:
The vintage, variety and origin on the label are correct; The wine has been produced sustainably, in an earth-friendly manner; The wine can be traced all the way from the vine to the bottle; The wine was bottled in South Africa and is 100% South African!
Along with various social upliftment projects throughout the year, an on-going
initiative is the Land of Hope wine range. Since 2007, this educational trust’s sole
beneficiaries are the previously disadvantaged employees and dependents of
Radford Dale. We use 50% of the gross profit from our Land of Hope range to fund the education of our previously disadvantaged employees, especially their children and dependents. The other 50% is used principally to cover production financing costs, so we can continue giving back to the people who make our wines. [Shop Land of Hope wines online]
Added to this Radford Dale is a long-standing, accredited member of WIETA. The acronym stands for ‘The Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trading Association’ and is a multi-stakeholder, non-profit voluntary organisation that promotes fair working conditions within the wine industry as well as provides a platform for dialogue around ethical trade.
We believe in giving back and in helping others prosper. Radford Dale Organic is the embodiment of this belief: in a time in the South African wine industry where many livelihoods were threatened by the alcohol bans of the pandemic, we as a local, medium-small winery decided to put down roots and invest in the face of it. This investment was not only land, but in people and importantly also in organic viticulture, which feels especially crucial with the ever-present reality of global warming at the forefront of agriculture. Creating jobs, and harvesting hope.
2022 harvest at RDO
We whole-heartedly subscribe to ‘WIETA’s banner cry: ‘Stronger Together’, and
firmly believe in the power of a thriving industry for all to shape the future. This
extends beyond vineyard borders to our compatriots in the restaurant industry too, who were likewise thrust into economic turmoil through COVID 19 restrictions. In order to help keep the doors open, Alex Dale in collaboration with Matt Manning of Grub and Vine (a small, family-owned bistro in Cape Town) created the Restaurant Rescue Project.
Alex Dale kicked off the initiative by committing almost half a million Rand’s worth of Radford Dale stock to supporting the restaurant sector, following a similar
contribution during the previous lockdown ban. This contribution underwrote Grub & Vine’s Restaurant Rescue package whereby consumers could purchase a gift
voucher or dining experience from the bistro, and receive a supporting case of
Radford Dale’s wine free of charge. The packages sold out within a matter of days, providing a much-needed relief to the restaurant sector. This project was rolled-out over 20 of Cape Town most prominent gastronomic restaurants during the worst of the lockdowns. Over R5M was raised enabling all of them to stay in business and thus protecting hundreds of jobs.
Says Alex Dale on the theme of ‘Sustainability 360’: “We don’t just work hard growing grapes and turning them into wine. We also work hard to care for the land and the people involved in the process.”
Join Radford Dale at Cape Wine from 5-7 October 2022. To make an appointment please email firstname.lastname@example.org