They specialise in the mountainous viticultural sub-regions of the Helderberg area in Stellenbosch, Elgin, and the Perderberg area in the Swartland. In other words, they work with grape growers from all of these areas, using the right grapes for the right wines rather than growing all the fruit on their property.
Their philosophyAt Radford Dale, they believe winemaking is all about individuality. They also strongly believe in the Cape’s ability to produce great wines with inimitable character. Just like the people who live there. Their aim is for their chosen varieties to express the extraordinary array of terroirs that nurtured them – with precious little intervention. In their opinion, this sense of “place” is often lost in modern winemaking, where too much emphasis is focused on commercialism, medals and other frilly stuff imposed by the winemaker or, worse still, by the marketing department. Instead, they give their wines a chance to express its own individuality. How do they do this? By working as naturally as possible in the vineyards, employing traditional methods, and manipulating things as little as possible in the cellar.
In a nutshell, their philosophy is to work as naturally as possible, to handle grapes softly and with great care, to use spontaneous fermentation, traditional winemaking techniques, and to make minimal additions.
Ethical, vegan friendly, and organic?Radford Dale is a founding member of Premium Independent Wineries Of South Africa (PIWOSA), which possesses the gold-standard ethics charter in today’s industry. Radford Dale is also a fully accredited member of Integrated Production of Wine (IPW). IPW is a voluntary environmental sustainability scheme established by the South African wine industry in 1998. They do everything they can to be eco-friendly and sustainable throughout the production process – from the vineyards and the winery to their waste-water management system, packaging and even logistics.
Another exciting development for the SA wine industry (since 2010) is the new sustainability seal on eco-friendly local wines. If you see that seal on a bottle, 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!
Because of the way they work in the vineyards and in the cellar, they avoid the use of additives, fining and filtration, which in turn means all their wines are vegan friendly.
Radford Dale received accreditation in 2020 for two new organic wines by Eco Cert, which is an organic certification and inspection body established in France in 1991. Although they have been making wines organically for many years, South African law stipulated that they could not be certified organic since these wines were made in the same winery as their other wines. They have now created a separate cellar and are developing a 100% organic wines program, which will have them developing a range of organic wines over the coming years.
A little about Chenin Blanc
For many years, Chenin Blanc was overlooked and under-appreciated by consumers and winemakers alike. Despite the mocking head-shaking of growers who wanted to uproot their Chenin bush vines in the '90s, Alex Dale and Ben Radford believed in the grape’s knack for producing wines of great character, substance and individuality. They ended up building their (then) new wine venture in Helderberg around Chenin Blanc. Almost 30 years later, Radford Dale is now known for producing unique and unusual wines with a hallmark mineral and complex character. Since Chenin Blanc is the backbone of their winery, they've naturally reformed the world-wide perception and reception of this hardy and flavourful grape.