A sustainable approach to wine farming has shifted from a novel idea to a necessity in recent years, highlighted at this year’s CapeWine 2022 with the theme Sustainability 360. With so many techniques and approaches, it is valuable to understand Paserene’s philosophy of sustainability.

Martin Smith, Paserene’s winemaker and part owner, believes that sustainability speaks to any and all actions that sustain the precious resources in winemaking and improve them for nature, people and future wines. Pivotal to this is that the quality of the wine is never compromised. Through these beliefs, Martin has charted the course for Paserene that established the luxury wines and methodically introduced and evolved sustainability practices and quality in unison.

Techniques employed are most visibly noticeable when viewing the vineyards, where a combination of cover crops such as lupin, medics and vetch are used. These are allowed to follow their entire lifecycle, growing during winter, self-seeding, and dying back for summer, leaving a thick blanket that protects the soils and vine root systems. This mature relationship with cover crops deters potential weeds that compete with the vines for vital nutrients. These steps have enabled Martin and the essential people working the vineyards to transition from using little to no herbicides this year. 

A spray made with hot peppers is used in vineyards that are particularly susceptible to foraging baboons and buck, quickly discouraging and eliminating the need for harsh interventions.

Paserene embodies a human-focused approach by carefully weeding and spraying with minimal machine use and even tilling the light Franschhoek soils by hand. Careful watering ensures water directly benefits the earth and reduces waste.

In the past, copper and sulphate were applied as a fungicide, a long-standing combination in growing grape vines. Martin is moving to eliminate copper use, turning to potassium bicarbonate and using sulphur sparingly in alternating years. Regenerative practices of alternating roaming cattle and horses in the vineyards, naturally introducing nitrogen to the soils from their manure and spreading chicken manure where necessary. Martin sees the results of these techniques in the soil systems with excellent health giving the best possible foundation for quality fruit to grow.

In the cellar, wastewater is aerated and dosed with lime to correct the pH and used in fields bringing the balanced water back into the crucial water system. These techniques and practices have transformed clinical and stripped-back wine farms of the past into diverse ecosystems that give Paserene’s elegant wines a true sense of place.