Jeremy and Emma Borg’s passion for wine is infectious. They are the co-founders of Painted Wolf Wines located in Paarl, South Africa. Jeremy has paid tribute to the remarkable ‘Painted Wolves’ of the area, by dedicating his superb wines to their name , going one step further with ‘The Den’ series, honouring the heart of the native wild dogs community. Their story takes us on a journey down the wine making route of their 2019 Pinotage vintage.
Emma thoroughly enjoyed being able to spend more time than usual in the vineyards this harvest with her grape transportation skills in demand this year as usually she is a photographer however, it provided a great opportunity for her to photograph the journey of some of their grapes, returning to one of her old favourite vineyards – Kasteelsig. She has kindly given us an insight into ‘a day in the life’ reporting from the vineyards at the beginning of the harvest season, reliving her 2007 experience which was when the Painted Wolf Wines released its first vintage…
“Harvest provokes an awakening of all the senses – the anticipation and excitement of new beginnings, feeling the early morning freshness before the heat sets in, taking in the stunning scenery of the Cape winelands, the sound of the clippers as the grapes are harvested, the tasting of the grapes fresh off the vine with their intense flavours.” – Emma Borg
Harvest Season – Pinotage Grapes
Depending on where you are in the world, the harvest season can differ slightly. See the image below of the typical annual growth of a grapevine in the vineyard. In the Southern Hemisphere, the harvest usually commences around January/February time and lasts for 3 months so the pruning starts in July/August time. This is the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere where the harvest period starts in August and finishes in October.
The harvest began for Painted Wolf on Thursday 24th January with their beautiful Pinotage grapes (a cross between the Cinsaut and Pinot Noir grape varieties) from Kasteelsig vineyard in the Swartland. It is the second most planted grape in South Africa, after Chenin Blanc.
The Borg’s have had very low rainfall in recent years and therefore the quantity of the unirrigated (lack of water supply) Pinotage grapes has reduced drastically and therefore hiring bulk transport was an unnecessary cost. This is when Jeremy and Emma went back to their 2007 harvesting transport by driving a couple of hired trailers filled with brand new ‘kissies’ (plastic boxes) attached to the bakkies (4×4 pick-up trucks).
Due to the low Pinotage yield, they then drove to the Koopmanskloof cellar where there was some delicate foot stomping involved before the wine fermentation process started with whole bunches fermented in bins and hand punched three times a day.
For the past ten years, Jeremy has been working with Madre and her wine making team in the Koopmanskloof cellar which is set up to work with smaller volumes of grapes, perfect for premium hand-crafted wines.
Here we have the final product! These wines are named after the den, the heart of all African wild dog communities. Flavour-packed, soft and juicy!
Local artist, Jenny Metelerkamp produced an eye-catching, delicate Painted Wolf ink drawing for the label.
An intense fruit-packed wine with notes of summer berries, savoury spice and toasty cedarwood flavours. The Den wines are comfort wines, and this wine delivers just that.
Food Pairing Ideas:
Pinotage is the best wine in the world to pair with spicy dishes. Keeping it local, you can enjoy this wine with South Africa’s signature dish: Bobotie (spiced minced meat with an egg-based topping) – similar to a an English Shepherd’s Pie! However it also goes great with Mexican fajitas or flavoursome American regional specialities like Carolina pulled pork and smokey Texas BBQ beef rib. It also works really well with Moroccan flavours and Malaysian dishes!