Planet Wine returns to the southern hemisphere! This lovely hillside, which looks like it could be anywhere in Europe, is actually on the continent of Africa. This is Mooiplaas Wine Estate, one of the wineries at the heart of the famous Stellenbosch Wine District, which itself is the heart of South Africa’s wine industry. This is beautiful country as you can see, and some terrific wines come out of this region. Fortunately more and more South African wines are making their way to markets and tables in the United States and other large wine-consuming nations.
Wine has been made at Mooiplaas since 1806 when Petrus Jacobus Bosman bought the property and planted the first vineyards. Unbeknownst to him, Bosman happened to put down roots in one of the smallest and most fragile environmental ecosystems on planet Earth. This whole area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reason Mooiplaas can keep making wine here is because of its leadership in the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a partnership in South Africa between wineries and conservation activists aimed at balancing environmental stewardship with excellence (and responsibility) in winemaking. Thus Mooiplaas’s methods are sustainable, and in fact a large portion of the winery is also a nature preserve dedicated to conserving the area’s endangered wildlife.
Mooiplaas makes two kinds of blanc (Chenin and Sauvignon), two kinds of cab (Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon), shiraz, a merlot and a sparkling wine. I bet all of them are stellar. And, as in the best wines that believe in the terroir concept, I’m sure you can “taste the dirt” of this wonderful and picturesque corner of our planet.