They had to bottle and cork the wine by hand, but this only fuelled their passion, and they began looking for inspiration for their own wine brand. Painted Wolf came about when Jeremy read about the endangered African wild dog (highly social and organised animals, and persistent and effective hunters). Emma and Jeremy shared the painted wolf’s appetite and keen hunting skills, although in their case this was for grapes to make their growing range of wines. The painted wolf takes pride of place on their labels, and such is their love for the species, and their dedication to wildlife preservation, that a percentage of profit made on every bottle is donated to conservation charities to help protect it.
Over the years this husband-and-wife team compiled a list of growers and winemakers they could trust, and these became the Painted Wolf ‘pack’. The vineyards chosen by the couple are low-yielding and usually non-irrigated. Their three main vineyards are Kasteelsig in Swartland, Southern Cross in Paarl, and Devon Hills in Stellenbosch.
Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region’s great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop’s Paul Sauer, Meerlust’s Rubicon and Warwick’s Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.
Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds.
The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines.