If you are one of those who likes to go out of their way to find the perfect gift, but don’t always have the time to do so? Waterford Estate’s online shop now makes it easy to shop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of your sofa.
We offer a range of bespoke items, gift boxes and vouchers via the online shop on Waterford.co.za and will ship your hand chosen one-of-a-kind gift free of charge to any destination in South Africa. You can even add a personal note and we can make sure your tailored gift reaches its lucky recipient within 2-3 days.
If you enjoy visiting the estate, you may be pleased to know that we have recently opened a pop-up gift store next to our tasting room. Extra-virgin olive oil from the estate, rose water made from our own Spanish rose bushes, hand-made chocolates specifically blended to pair with our wines, and branded corkscrews, ice buckets, wine skins, cooler bags and aprons all make for thoughtful gifts and souvenirs to take back home.
Our online shopping team is committed to making your shopping experience as convenient as possible and promise to continue offering the personal service you expect at Waterford Estate!
Colleagues are wonderful, but mentors are even more important. And at Waterford Estate, mentorship is starting to play a key role in ensuring the long-term prosperity of our team.
Producing wine is a physical business: there’s the growing, picking, sorting and crushing of the grapes, and the fermentation, bottling and labelling of the wine. But beneath this layer of hard physical labour lies a soft core: the emotional wellbeing of the people who grow and produce the wine.
The Waterford Estate brand is built around people, and great care is taken in nurturing each individual employee as time goes by. But keeping team members motivated and passionate can sometimes be hard work, as Waterford Estate farm manager and viticulturist David van Schalkwyk discovered.
David spends his days among the farm workers, tending to the diverse soils and vines that make up Waterford Estate. Over the last few years, David and his predecessors started to hit a few stumbling blocks in keeping the team functioning optimally. “We found it increasingly difficult to attract younger farm workers,” David says. “The younger men and women didn’t stay for more than a season or two, and lacked energy, enthusiasm and a sense of belonging.”
A structured mentorship programme provided an opportunity in which to help motivate the younger team members while encouraging mentorship skills among the older generation – the men and women who already had great influence among the community of people who lived and worked on the farm. For David, it was important to get the farm workers, both young and old, excited about their jobs again, thus contributing to their overall health and wellbeing.
When David crossed paths with Emile Neethling, life coach and founder of the Karmic Group in Somerset-West, Waterford Estate’s first formal mentorship programme was set in motion. And so, early in 2017, a handful of farm workers started to attend weekly sessions with their new coach.
“Initially, the course was quite intimidating, as we all had to do a lot of introspection,” David recalls. “Trying to figure out who we really are and where we wanted to be was difficult, but Emile helped us to work through these questions and to find the answers for ourselves. The second part of the programme focused on building relationships and becoming mentors to the people in our lives. One of the big lessons was realising that each one of us could be a mentor.”
Ronnie and Richard, the two farm workers who just completed the first programme with David, both found the course incredibly valuable. “Emile taught me how to be more mature and disciplined,” Ronnie says. “In the past, when there was a negative situation among the team, I used to just jump in and say what I wanted to say. But now I take a different approach.”
For Richard, the course was a wonderful adventure that took him on a journey of self-discovery. “I usually wouldn’t share my deepest emotions with others, but I managed to do this during the course. I learnt that it’s important to not just force my opinion onto others, but to try to step into other people’s shoes and to first get their perspective on things. I really learnt how to listen.”
Blommie, one of Richard’s colleagues, immediately noticed the difference. “In the past, Richard would have criticised me. After completing the programme, he now just encourages me.”
When asked if, after the course, Ronnie and Richard found their jobs more fulfilling, Richard is quick to answer: “Absolutely. I used to be quite tense when coming to work in the morning. Now I’m more relaxed. It’s a choice I make every day.”
Only time will tell if the mentorship programme succeeds in encouraging younger farm workers to make Waterford Estate their permanent home. But, so far, it’s had a very positive effect on the team. And with the second course already underway, the future looks promising.
“Waterford Estate is having a massive, positive influence on their people’s lives. They’re changing lives more than they can imagine,” says coach Emile, adding that the group of farm workers are kind, generous people. “They have a passion for what they do and are, in return, always grateful for the opportunity to be part of this family and happy to work in a caring culture.”
The Waterford Way is to flow with nature’s cycles and to farm in an environmentally responsible way that not only protects the indigenous flora and fauna on the estate, but also the winery’s future.
Have you visited Waterford Estate before? Then you might know that the estate stretches over 120Ha of magnificent land in the Blaauwklippen Valley, but that only 55Ha of the estate is under vine; the rest is kept as natural as possible.
This is done very deliberately to protect the environment and to allow for a future in which the estate continues to produce world-class wines that truly express the terroir, explains Waterford Estate viticulturist David van Schalkwyk.
If the natural fauna and flora isn’t maintained to a certain degree, Waterford Estate’s soils will become depleted over time. “Naturally occurring plants, animals and insects will start to reduce,” David says. “Fungi, harmful insects and weeds will become more difficult to manage naturally and, ultimately, the vineyard’s life expectancy will be reduced.”
Sustainable wine farming is about much more than the grapes, as Janet Fletcher and George Rose explain in the self-published book, Down to Earth: “The principles that define sustainability are a comprehensive set of environmentally sound, socially responsible, and economically viable best practices that encompass every aspect of the vineyard, winery, surrounding habitat, ecosystem, employees and community.”
As such, the Waterford team works hard at rehabilitating the areas on the estate that have been disturbed. “By maintaining a balance on the farm, we create an opportunity for natural predators and plants to influence the environment and the vines in their own unique way,” David says.
Part of Waterford Estate’s success in maintaining sustainable farming methods is the fact that David, winemaker Mark le Roux and cellar master / managing partner Kevin Arnold share similar philosophies.
“We keep things simple, both inside and outside of the cellar,” says David. “We try to interfere as little as possible, allowing nature to do its job. In this way, our wines also have the best chance of truly reflecting Waterford’s unique environment.” But, adds Mark, interfering as little as possible doesn’t mean the team gets to go on holiday more often! “Finding ways to improve or sustain wine quality without manipulation is an art,” the winemaker says.
Social responsibility also forms a key part of farming in a sustainable way, and David believes that a winery’s labour force is one of the most important elements in this equation. “You have to get buy-in from your people to make it work. We make our farm workers aware of sustainability best practices by hosting regular talks and workshops, and by educating them along the way.”
Thanks to Waterford Estate’s team of farm workers, several projects aimed at protecting the natural environment are currently underway. Every year, for example, the team replaces alien vegetation with 100-150 indigenous trees. They also make their own compost and use natural methods to protect the vines from animals (for instance, dog hair is used to scare buck away).
In dry years, the team also effectively makes use of drip irrigation, drastically cutting the winery’s water usage. This strategy has proved to be incredibly effective in 2017/2018, when the region’s wine production was dramatically impacted by a severe drought. While other wineries recorded low harvests, Waterford’s Cabernet Sauvignon harvest was up by 23%. The other varietals also coped remarkably well. “This just shows how the extreme drought has had very little effect on the vineyard,” Mark says. “It can survive the toughest conditions.”
David adds that, with the help of good sustainability practices, the team manages to cultivate stronger, healthier vines. By keeping the soils healthy, the plants are able to develop strong root systems that ultimately help them to cope with extreme weather conditions.
While Waterford Estate isn’t an organic winery, it certainly ticks all the right boxes when it comes to sustainable farming. “We farm with nature, for the future, and not just with vines,” David concludes. “But, of course, we also focus on producing top-quality grapes and world-class wines.”
Points to note:
– All wines currently produced at Waterford Estate qualify for the Integrity & Sustainability Seal, as the team has managed to maintain sustainable practices since the seal was introduced in 2010.
– Waterford Estate holds an Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) certificate for its sustainable, environmentally friendly production methods.
– Waterford Estate has Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) accreditation – proof that the estate maintains a high level of good-practice standards.
– Waterford Estate is a member of the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative (BWI), which means that we’re committed to environmentally friendly farming practices, the eradication of alien vegetation, and the promotion of indigenous fynbos.
– Waterford Estate is one of 37 wine brands with WWF Conservation Champion status.
The newly established Waterford Estate Crèche offers wonderful learning opportunities for children who grow up on the farm.
There’s a striking quote by famous author Jess Lair that reads: “Children aren’t things to be moulded, but people to be unfolded.”
A brief visit to the Waterford Estate crèche – where a handful of children go every day to learn a new song or rhyme, to listen to a story, and to socialise with friends – is all that’s required to remind you of Lair’s words. Those first lessons really do set the stage for a lifetime of learning.
The Waterford Crèche was established in November 2016, after the school on one of the neighbouring farms had to close down unexpectedly. Alternative arrangements had to be made fairly quickly, and the Waterford team set out to find a site on the farm that would be close to the farm workers’ homes, yet spacious enough to offer the kids enough room to play. A basic shed with a kitchenette and toilet was erected and, over the course of 14 months, equipment was added to make the crèche as comfortable as possible.
The facilities are simple, but the kids who attend the school have everything they need: from a safe place to clamber around under magnificent oak trees, to boxes full of books and toys, and a cool space in which to take a nap after being cleaned and fed. Significantly, the crèche’s children have the privilege of being cared for and educated by members of their own close-knit community, in a setting that can only be described as idyllic.
The crèche is a way of supporting the members of the Waterford family who live on the farm, explains Waterford viticulturist David van Schalkwyk, who played a prominent role in setting up the facilities. “The school makes it possible for the families to earn a dual income,” he says. “Having the kids so close to home also makes it easy for parents to drop them off and pick them up after work, and even check in on them during the day.”
After the initial rush to set up the facilities, finding two teachers to take care of the children was, fortunately, fairly easy. Aisha Daniels, who grew up on the farm, was doing an Educare training course at the time and Sannie Blaauw, whose husband Richard works on the farm, was keen to earn an income while caring for her grandchild. For both Aisha and Sannie, it made sense to look after their little ones while taking some of the other farm children under their wing.
Seven children between the ages of five months and four years are currently in Aisha and Sannie’s care. Chanté and Enjay, the crèche’s two four-year-olds, are confident, inquisitive pre-schoolers. Both can write their names, count to 20, recite a string of rhymes, and navigate their way through the jungle gym with ease. There’s no doubt that, when they transition to Grade R next year, they’ll settle in well.
Chanté’s mom, Clarina Pietersen, is full of praise for the school. “I really like the fact that Chanté’s teachers have started teaching her how to write and count, and we always have a giggle when Chanté comes home with a cute new song or rhyme.”
For Waterford Estate’s owners, setting up the crèche for the farm workers’ children was a simple decision. The Waterford brand is built around people, and the owners take great care in ensuring their employees’ long-term success and prosperity. Making sure that the children who grow up on the estate have a strong educational foundation was a natural extension of this philosophy.