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Luddite Logo

Luddite

Walker Bay, South Africa
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Niels and Penny Verburg founded Luddite wines in November 1999. Having met at agricultural college, they had a plan to one day own a piece of land and “live the dream”.  Five years abroad spent honing his winemaking skills around the world (and having two children while they were traveling), saw Niels and Penny head back in South Africa, and settle in the village of Bot River – roughly midway between Elgin and Hermanus.

After 5 harvests abroad, they realized the potential of owning their own farm. Being in a new territory (Bot River), their virgin soils (never before planted on) provided the blank canvas upon which to begin their work. Then, another child arrived in 1999, completing the family and realizing they needed to start the wine production adventure – before school and other real-life realities got in the way.

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The land was bought in 2000, and vineyards were planted straight away (without permission – the Agricultural Dept. only gave subdivision approval in 2001). Moreover, the property is 40 acres in size, with 25 acres of vineyard and the cool southeastern slopes catch the morning sun and are ideal for long ripening. Luddite sits on the eastern slopes of the Houw Hoek Mountains, 11/2 km from the Bot River village in the Walker Bay Region.

Over the years, Niels and Penny planted Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The latest addition was a small section of Grenache Noir, which will go into their Saboteur red blend. The Shiraz and Chenin Blanc will always be 100% Estate wines whilst the Saboteur range include fruit from the nearby Bot River farms.

Without a doubt, from the word go, this couple was determined to grow the best grapes in the most organic way possible and were committed to making unique wines with real personality.

The cool decomposing clay soils allowed them to farm ''dry land'', meaning that each vintage is a true reflection of the growing season on their specific site. ALso, the grapes are smaller, and this gives them more flavor and concentration. For each vintage to reflect its own character, it is essential that they allow the natural yeasts in the cellar to work with the juice to start the fermentation process - Niels simply acts as a caretaker and doesn't override the natural course of the winemaking process.

The first vintage released was 2000, which was very well received by the market. Thus, every vintage since then has seen the brand grow from strength to strength….and finally become Iconic. Niels has been involved with wineries in the Overberg area since 1996, whether it's just been as a good mate offering advice, or making the wines for a new producer.

In 20 years, Bot River has gone from 2 to 11 producers and Niels has had an input in each one of the projects. Thus, it gives him a fantastic understanding of the area, and it meant that when it came time to procure grapes for the Saboteur range, he knew what he wanted and from where. Niels now has the pleasure of mentoring his daughter, Alice, in the cellar. This is the start of a new chapter. During the Industrial Revolution, the ''Saboteurs'' burned down the factories of Europe.

It was their way of protesting against the technology and mechanization that was costing them their jobs and way of life. At Luddite, they have always been non-conformists, and they remain steadfast in their belief that "hand-crafted" winemaking produces better results. Their bottles carry a reminder on the back label of what matters most to them: that technology and mechanization will never be a substitute for passion!