Mike Kreft – producing red wine in Elgin
08 January 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live. We head off to Elgin once again and a returning guest on the podcast and an absolute pleasure to welcome once again, Mike Kreft. Mike welcome, nice to catch up. Thanks for joining us.
Mike Kreft: Hi Brad.
BB: Mike you’re farming in a beautiful part of the country. You’re in Elgin, you’ve got a farm called Belfield which is unique in the sense that last year you said the people said you would never be able to produce red wine on that farm. Which you are doing and quite successfully as well. Tell us a little bit about the history of the farm itself.
Turning the farm into a wine producer
MK: The farm was primarily apples and some pears when we arrived in 2000 and when we started going into the wine, or into the wine journey it was suggested by a leading wine consultant that this would produce really good red wines. That’s why we planted reds which suited my palate as well. So that’s where we started and the soils are very special. We’ve got Einstone, well-drained, very well-drained in fact, northeast facing which is what good red wine requires.
BB: What are some of the challenges you faced on that piece of land?
MK: Well, you know the land actually is so suited that I don’t think there have been any real challenges in terms of the growing of the vines. It’s, in fact especially the Cab is really very, very happy here, and that’s been our flagship all along.
We also have Merlot and we have Shiraz and a little bit of Cab Franc and the other two are catching up in terms of maturity of the vines because the vines are between 10 years and 13 years old so they’re just getting out of their delinquent stage and are becoming serious adults now.
Using very little water
BB: As far as, weather and water, obviously water is always an issue and farmers are always talking about the weather and water. Are you pretty satisfied with the hand you’ve been dealt there and obviously it changes from season to season but you make do with what you’ve got?
MK: Yes, no for one thing on the water side we use very little water. We obviously put good quantities of water down to get the vines up onto the cord and wire. Since then you know as they’ve matured we might at most apply two to three irrigations in the summer. That is sort of January, February when we have those really hot spells.
Otherwise we have this beautiful mild climate up here influenced by the altitude, proximity to the sea and the South-Easter which comes in the afternoons and cools things down and also produces the famous table cloth, South-Easter cloud which we get on Table Mountain. Which helps to take away the extreme heat that some of the other areas would be getting.
BB: What else have you got going on the farm? I know you’ve got some accommodation that people can hire out as well and it’s just a great experience to head out to that part of the world. Elgin is beautiful. What can people expect if they do head to Belfield?
Belfield is worth a visit
MK: Well, if they head to Belfield they’ll have a very personal experience in terms of Noelle, that’s my wife and I, we’re very involved in our cottages, self-catering cottages and the wine tastings. Which people are very welcome to come and experience are conducted by me so they get the old bugger talking about the wines.
They sit at the tasting room and right next to the vineyards and we also do walkabouts in the vineyards to show people what’s going on at the particular time. So it’s a very personal, relaxed experience and ja I think people enjoy that aspect of it.
BB: Those wine tastings, how rewarding is that for you as a winemaker to actually sit in front of someone who possibly hasn’t tasted your wines before to talk to them about the philosophy and the story behind it and then to see their reaction when they actually taste your wine for the first time?
MK: I draw great pleasure from that. Not only in them enjoying the wines and talking about how we go about it but also one meets such wonderful people and I do enjoy that very much. So I’m learning as well, maybe on a broader basis about other things but passing on the Belfield experience to them is an absolute pleasure.
BB: Mike Kreft, thank you so much for joining us. If you want to find out more about Belfield, the website to get to is belfield.co.za. All the details are there about the wines, the farm, as well as the cottages if you’d like to find out more about those. Mike thanks for your time, much appreciate.
MK: No, that’s a pleasure. Thank you.