Makulu means “BIG” in the ancient Zulu language and is one of eleven native languages of South Africa. “BIG” in flavors and “BIG” on environmental sustainability is the heart of Makulu wines.
The “BIG” flavors of Makulu come from vineyards located in the Paarl Ward region of Wellington at the foot of the Hawekwa mountain range in the Western Cape of South Africa. The area lies about 43 miles inland from Cape Town’s False Bay and is South Africa’s largest wine growing region, accounting for approximately 90% of the countries vines. From vineyard to bottle, Makulu’s entire wine making process is done here and is produced in the second oldest wine cellar in South Africa.
The region has both coastal and mountain influences; perfect for producing quality wines. The vineyards are positioned on and around the slopes of the Hawekwa mountain range. The soil in this area is a mix of sandstone and granite with marl, making for an ideal terroir.
Cold winters and very hot summers are typical for certain areas of South Africa, but the altitude of these vineyards creates a more moderate growing climate, warm days and cool nights. This type of climate plays a very important role in the ripening process. It allows for greater fruit retention, natural acidity and more complex flavors.
The “BIG” environmental sustainability of Makulu is also the heartbeat of the South African wine industry. Six years after the abolition of the Co-Operative Wine Farmers Association (KWV) in 1992, the South African government established the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW). The KWV originally regulated production and set ‘quotas.’ It wasn’t until the IPW was established where quality and environmental sustainability became paramount to the South African wine industry in dealing with international demand, protecting natural resources, and becoming economically viable.
The IPW system affects everything from the vineyards (pest, soil and water management) to the bottling of the product (environmentally preferred purchases, human resources and material & waste handling) aimed specifically at producing wine through sustainable agriculture. The in-depth system addresses areas such as threatened ecosystems to dealing with invading alien plants to restoration and rehabilitation. It is within this system where nature is able to apply its full potential to the vineyards and grapes with as little human interference as possible.
The standards established by the South African government, not only for wine but also for all agriculture products, is why South Africa continues to lead the way in sustainable farming. The internationally recognized practices for conservation farming created by South Africa and the benefits realized has persuaded the New Zealand and California wine industries to follow the examples of the IPW system and develop their own plans to assist growers with sustainable agriculture.
The grapes used to produce Makulu are from vineyards dedicated to maintaining the environmental and the economic sustainability of the region for future generations. The winery and grapes grown for Makulu comply with all of the practices of the IPW, as well as South Africa’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) which aims at promoting the adoption of the best biodiversity practices and minimizing the further loss of threatened natural habitat. If any practice is not followed the growers may not deliver their grapes and no wine may be exported. It is under these guidelines where sustainability is achieved and every glass matters in a “BIG” way.