Vermentino grapes introduced to SA

Perdjies school on the property is receiving a new bus with some of the proceeds of the auction.

An auction to celebrate the first-ever release of Vermentino in South Africa was held on Youth Day, June 16, where every single lot of the limited-edition wine was sold.

The auction, which catered for South African and international bidders, was orchestrated by Ayama Wine Farm, and was held in aid of youth development.

Vermentino is a light-skinned wine grape that makes for a medium-full-bodied wine, and is common in Italy and widely grown in Sardinia. Ayama is responsible for the introduction of Vermentino into South Africa, from a Sardinian clone.

The project is the brainchild of Ayama’s owners Attilio and Michela Dalpiaz, an Italian couple who fell in love with the Western Cape and relocated to South Africa 14 years ago.

The Dalpiazs wanted to connect their new homeland with the culture and traditions of Italy, and to this end, Attilio and Michela invited Italian agronomist Augusto Fabbro to come out to South Africa in 2007 to study their terroir.

Ayama lies on the lower slopes of Perdeberg Mountain, and the climate of the Voor Paardeberg region is particularly suited to Mediterranean style wines and thus Vermentino was identified as the most likely candidate. There followed six years of import permissions, quarantine approvals and propagation before the very first Vermentino vines could be planted at Ayama in 2014.

This historic occasion was marked by a convivial “planting party” where each special guest was given the honour of digging the virgin vines into the earth (and Bolander editor Carolyn Frost was at the event, and the proud “digger” of some of the vines).

The party also celebrated the first decade of the Dalpiazs, and their Italian friends and partners, in South Africa. One hectare – a solid block – was planted. The fruits of those very first vines were pressed into the maiden vintage that was sold on auction.

Further distinguishing this wine, is the fact that classical music was played in the wine cellar during the fermentation process. This resulted in the “must” of the wine forming an unusual and beautiful pattern, images of which were used to inspire the distinctive label design of the wine bottle.

The Dalpiazs were eager to set this important wine apart, and so were not keen to sell it in a conventional manner. Thus the idea of an auction was born. Auctions are not particularly common in the wine industry and when they happen, usually cover many different types of wine, and so a single farm, single vintage auction is a departure from the norm, intended to mark a significant moment in South African winemaking history.

A school bus is going to bought for the Perdjies school on the property, and costing is currently being done to source the vehicle.