Design April/May 2015 July/Aug 2013 - Page 56

With only three wineries in the country, Namibia can hardly boast being a wine producing giant, and considering our harsh climate, many will find it surprising that locally made wines are really something special. 56 W hile John Ludwig was one of the first people to make wine in Windhoek, the three wineries of today are located in Omaruru, the Namib Naukluft Park and near Otavi. Namibia’s first wine makers After settling in Klein Windhoek in 1892, John Ludwig, who was a baker by trade, was one of the first settlers to really use the fertile soil of the valley, by planting 1 400 wine slips. By 1902 he had produced a thousand litres of wine and by 1909 output was more than 23 000 litres. By then his vineyards covered 16 km, containing more than 16 000 individual plants. However, competition soon came in the form of the Roman Catholic priests. These vineyards were situated where St Paul’s College is located today. Until the 1960s the priests produced wine and even schnapps (known as the Katholischer), but then the art of wine making came to a halt. Climate a challenge Outside of Klein Windhoek’s springs of yesteryear, the greatest challenge that grape growers face today, is the country’s aridity. While grapes have been grown on the banks of the Orange River for many years, desIgn Namibia June - August 2013 these were – and still are – mostly destined for export to Europe as table grapes. In 1990 Helmut Kluge took on the challenge of cultivating grapes for wine at the Kristall Kellerei in Omaruru, yielding his first bottle of wine five years later. The cellar was taken over by Michael and Katrin Weder in 2008 and they ensured that the vineyard moved into an era. In the small vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, Colombard and a little Tinta Barocca are grown – this on a modest four hectares with only 7 500 vines that deliver around 10 000 bottles of wine a year. Even though the winery boasts modern machinery, most of the pruning, picking and crushing is still done by hand. Moving south to the Namib Naukluft Park, Allan Walkden-Davis bought the farm Neuras (meaning the “place of abandoned water” in Koikoi) in 1996. With five perennial fountains, he decided to use the water to irrigate a hectare of vines with around 1 100 Shiraz and 200 Merlot vines. The first harvest came in February 2001. However, some of the vines on Neuras predate the Second World War. Interestingly enough, a gardener named Ernst Hermann grew vegetables – including grapes – on the