“Rooibos Wine” – Rooibos Revolution for Cape Wine, using Rooibos in the wine-making process

Rooibos wine is a new development by Audacia Wines, released onto the market in 2014 and set to spread quickly with their exportation to China already underway. The Stellenbosch wine farm, located in the Cape Winelands by the Bonte River and the Helderberg Mountain, has discovered a new production method that can revolutionise the process of wine-making, making wine more natural, less harmful, and more sustainable

The Rooibos Wine Process

During the wine-making process, the traditional method is to add oak wood derivatives inside the large steel containers that are used in the fermentation process of the wine. The oak wood derivates, which have to be imported to South Africa in the form of staves, chips, powder, and liquid extracts, work to preserve the wine so that it isn’t spoiled by the time it is bought by the consumer. The problem with this is that the wines created with this method use an extensive amount of sulphites, or sulphur dioxide, to preserve the wine, a chemical which causes allergic reactions in many people, and has put off the organic market from drinking wine. This new method, which has been patented by Audacia Wines, uses Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos) and Cyclopia genistoides (Honeybush) wood instead of Oak wood, creating a wine that is free from sulphites and preservatives. The process of manufacture is similar, but the results are achieved more quickly as the process of antioxidant extraction from the Rooibos wood is faster than that of the oak. The result is a Rooibos wine that tastes unique and has only 3mg of natural sulphites per litre, which is so small that it is labelled as having ‘no sulphites or preservatives.’

Benefits of Rooibos Wine

The method for the Rooibos wine has a number of benefits. Rooibos is a much-loved local tea, and the leaves are indigenous to South Africa; part of the fynbos family that is endemic to the Western Cape. This means that South African winemakers would not have to import oak wood, making it a more sustainable and more cost-effective process in the long run. That the Rooibos wine has no sulphites or preservatives makes it a brilliant alternative for people who are intolerant to sulphur dioxide, and it is a significant advancement for the organic wine industry. Research is underway to further understand the extent to which Rooibos wood may replace traditional ingredients, and Audacia Wines has worked with the Stellenbosch University Department of viticulture and oenology, and the ARC Infruitec – Nietvoorbij, to review the possibilities.

The first Rooibos wine launched by Audacia, which was made using this new technique, is a merlot of the 2013 grape harvest, and it has so far received brilliant recommendations. It is currently being supplied to Pick n Pay, with new wines in development – including a shiraz and a cabernet sauvignon which are expected to be released soon. The development of the Rooibos and Honeybush wine-making method is thrilling news for wine lovers, and has the potential to change the way that wine is made all over the world, beginning with South Africa.

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