And…it’s 2015!

We can’t believe that 2014 has disappeared!

Last year was a challenging one, and the vintage certainly felt it. Heavy rainfalls in December 2013 and January 2014 put the cats amongst the pigeons from a winemaking perspective. This rain brought the harvest forward dramatically, and with that came a fair amount of rot and disease. Luckily, with 25 years of winemaking under Niels’ belt, we managed to see the warning lights early and picked before any major drama occurred in our vineyards. The ripeness levels happened at lower sugars which mean the wines of 2014 are lower in alcohol, and are showing fantastic finesse.


In very exciting news, 2014 also saw us picking our first Chenin Blanc from the Luddite Farm. Due to the excellent quality, we were in a position to ferment on skins, with a natural fermentation and without additions of any kind. The three resulting barrels are therefore a true reflection of our site and terroir.

New releases from Luddite include the Luddite Shiraz 2009, Saboteur 2012 and the Luddite Chenin 2013.


The Luddite Shiraz 2009 is the first Luddite to be made in our own cellar and also the first to be made from 100% Bot River grapes. In true Luddite style, Niels culled a large portion out of the final blend and we have ended up with only 13 500 bottles! The Saboteur 2012 is the fourth vintage of our successful red blend, and we’re certain that you will find it as marvellous as ever. The Luddite Chenin 2013 is in a slightly riper style than our maiden vintage but still has all the different layers of flavour that one would expect from a top Chenin Blanc.

Here’s to 2015! May it be filled with wonderful wine.



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Spring Sprang

There is no such thing as a bad time to drink wine and Bot River’s Spring Weekend proved the point. With the pink-bunting-festooned Luddite Landrover as chariot and blossoms abounding in orchards and along the roadsides, the annual Spring weekend got underway.

Spring blossoms abound.

Spring blossoms abound.

The Spring Weekend's official chariot.

The Spring Weekend’s official chariot.

Niels was in the cellar from 10am, offering Genevieve bubbles and a taste of his Shiraz. It might be considered imprudent to begin sipping so early in the day, but luckily Penny’s pork bangers were sizzling, so one could call it breakfast!

Niels doing a tasting at Luddite.

Niels doing a tasting at Luddite.

At Feiteiras – a family-run vineyard that makes handcrafted wines – José de Andrade offered round his Verdelho. ‘Cooking and winemaking is not a profession in Portugal’, he said, laughing, ‘It’s something we all do’. A Madeiran who settled in Bot River, José stays true to his Portuguese roots, making wine using a basket press.

José de Andrade at Feiteiras.

José de Andrade at Feiteiras.

José doesn’t believe in sterile wine tastings – ‘nobody drinks wine like that in real life!’, and family and staff have rustled up a veritable Portugese feast. A dry merlot rosé is another perfect accompaniment to the Portuguese feast, followed by a 2011 Troca Tintas. ‘’I could just drink this all day’, murmured a happy guest.

A Portugese feast at Feiteiras.

A Portugese feast at Feiteiras.

Barton's winemaker, PJ Geyer.

Barton’s winemaker, PJ Geyer.

Barton is home to winemaker PJ Geyer, who also happens to be an excellent ‘kettie skiet’ coach, but despite the best post-wine-tasting efforts, the target remained elusive. ‘My heart is Merlot’, he explained. Barton’s Merlot block was what persuaded PJ to settle in Bot River and he reckons that Merlot is the most difficult wine to perfect.

‘Merlot is always feminine’, he chuckles. ‘One mistake, and you’re over. It’s an unforgiving wine’. PJ’s love for winemaking became clear when he described the natural algorithms of wine, and admitted to playing soothing music in the cellar. ‘It’s not about thinking and doing, it’s about tasting and feeling’, he added.

The 'kettie skiet' competition gets underway at Barton.

The ‘kettie skiet’ competition gets underway at Barton.

At Rivendell there was an eloquently hosted Sauvignon Blanc vertical tasting (2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages) happening with Rachel, the hostess. A gorgeous rosé – flush in colour and served with a luscious chilli-chocolate-coated strawberry in the vernal sunshine was a favourite.

Rosé and chilli-chocolate-covered strawberries at Rivendell.

Rosé and chilli-chocolate-covered strawberries at Rivendell.

More treats lay in store at the magnificent Benguela Cove manor house. High tea was served in style after a tasting on the terrace overlooking the estate and lagoon. Scones with real clotted cream and lemon curd, macarons and crustless cucumber sandwiches arrived in tiered glory.

High Tea at Benguela Cove

High Tea at Benguela Cove

Amazing views from Benguela Cove Manor House.

Amazing views from Benguela Cove Manor House.

And at Wildekrans, pink-bedecked staff and local musicians got the merry-making underway as the day turned into night. Sipping on MCC under the marquee on the beautiful Wildekrans lawns, locals, winemakers and visitors all converged to wind the Spring day down together.

Elrieda Pillmann, winemaker at Goedvertrouw.

Elrieda Pillmann, winemaker at Goedvertrouw.

On Sunday, Elrieda Pillmann opened her home Goedvertrouw. The building is almost 200 years old and the tasting happened in the shade of her garden, which was all a-blossom. Elrieda’s vines are all ‘bostokkies’, which means a low grape yield of extremely flavourful berries.

The farmhouse at Goedvertrouw is one of the oldest in the area.

The farmhouse at Goedvertrouw is one of the oldest in the area.

Elrieda brought out some of her older Sauvignon Blancs (2006 and 2008) for tasting. ‘Some people think I’m mad for having such old [white] wine’, she laughed, ‘but then they just need to try it’. Remarkably, Elrieda doesn’t drink, but her palate is unrivalled.

Goedvertrouw Pinot Noir.

Goedvertrouw Pinot Noir.

This year sees Beaumont celebrate its 40th anniversary, so over Spring weekend winemaker Sebastian offered tastings of their older vintages. In the vertical tastings of their Pinotage and Hope Marguerite Chenin some of the vintages went back as far as 1995! Sebastian described the evolution of the farm since his parents’ arrival in Bot River, and family and friends were treated to a banquet lunch in the cellar.

Beaumont offered visitors a treat with vertical tastings of some of their older vintages.

Beaumont offered visitors a treat with vertical tastings of some of their older vintages.

The Bot River wine fraternity is about the individuals who are part of it, their sense of community and their love of this beautiful little town in the Overberg. Whether it’s a state-of-the-art winemaking facility or a small family-run business, winemakers nurture respect for each other. ‘There’s no bullshit here’, says PJ. How right he is.

The beautiful Bot River valley.

The beautiful Bot River valley.

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Bot River Spring Weekend Is Here!


Penny has been hard at work preparing for the Bot River Spring Weekend – painting the entrance gates with flowers, standing in her kitchen up to her elbows in pork meat producing sausages and rillettes and sketching bespoke Luddite flyers (below). See you tomorrow!




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The Best Bangers Ever


See these delicious looking bangers? They are The Best Bangers Ever made  by Penny Verburg and they will be available tomorrow at  The Pink Weekend!


Penny makes them from scratch using meat from her happy pigs and all the mincing, seasoning, filling and twisting of the these pork sausage links is done by Penny herself.

There’s a batch of fresh sage and white pepper sausages ready and waiting for Saturday and Niels will be in the tasting room pouring the Luddite. Do you really need any more reasons for a little jaunt to Bot River?

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Luddite Goes Large

Big Bottle

Luddite will cracking open some big guys at the 4th annual Big Bottle Festival on 29 and 30 August 2014 at the Taj Hotel. And Cape Town’s much loved chefs will be cooking the canapés and other delicious morsels to pair with these special wines. See you there!

Tickets are available online via WebTickets

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Filed under LUDDITE EVENTS, Uncategorized

The First Luddite Chenin Harvest!


Last Sunday saw the first harvest from the block of Chenin right in front of the Luddite’s home. Niels was ‘very chuffed’ with the quality of the grapes…


Friends and family tackled the rows in pairs, fueled by bubbly, eggy-bacon rolls and the promise of lunch cooked by Penny…


Some dressed for the occasion…


Others just got down to business and did their duty…


Even Niels’s mum armed herself with a pair of secateurs!


Some bunches were trickier to retrieve but all the grapes were bursting with prime Chenin juice…


There was picking…


And posing…


And when the crates were close to full the youngest Luddites made for the dam, while the oldest Luddites retired with the Sunday papers…

The inbetweeners brought in the last haul and barring something of a saboteur moment (a close shave with a rogue pair of secateurs) everything went off beautifully.

Niels uncorked a couple of bottles of Luddite Chenin 2012, Penny delivered her from-scratch chicken pies to the lunch table and the harvest festivities continued late into the afternoon.

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Filed under HARVEST

Barrels & Beards 2014!


Roll up, roll up – the Bot River Barrels & Beards tickets are now on sale! Best get them while they’re hot as Barrels & Beards 2013 sold out completely. And if last year’s celebration is anything to go by, 2014 is going to be rip-roaring fun. (Yes, that’s our Niels on the right, reigning champion of the Best Beard competition!)

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A Day in the Life of Penny Verburg


Although it’s Niels that makes the wine, Luddite is a team effort. Penny is quick to duck out of the limelight but she’s the one who keeps the wheel turning while Niels is away and, when he’s there, does what it takes to make Niels’s life easier so he can get on with making delicious wines.

At Luddite most things are done by hand and it’s Penny who numbers every single bottle, so whenever there’s a spare moment she’ll dash down to the cellar with her pen. ‘Its something really close to my heart,’ says Penny, ‘it might sound silly but I like the fact that I get to hold every bottle of wine that leaves the farm…twee, I know, but true.’


Being a good farmer’s wife, Penny knows how to bake her own bread and make bacon (with rind!) and bangers, and a mean chourizo (that includes a splash of Luddite Shiraz)* and is willing to show her friends how to do it.


She’s a natural in the kitchen, rustling up lunches for special wine tastings and charity lunches, feeding visiting Russians and putting her hand up for cooking at the local harvest festival – she even bottles her own Luddite olive oil (for sale at Wine @ The Mill).


Last year, when Niels was out of action, Penny stepped up and went on tour (dazzling the Europeans) and this year she’s been appointed Chairperson of the Bot River Vineyard Association for 2014.

And in case it sounds like being married to a winemaker is all work and no fun, Penny knows just how to rally the townsfolk to go for a drink down at the Bot River Hotel bar on a Friday night.

Let’s hear it for Mrs Verburg!

*Sorry, Penny only makes enough charcuterie to feed her family so it’s not for sale! 

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The Story Behind Luddite’s New Chenin


Niels explains why the Luddites decided to make a Chenin of their own…

‘Penny and I have always loved Chenin. Besides being such a great food wine, it is multi-faceted, ages well, and expresses terroir beautifully. The first Chenin Blanc to grab my attention was Moulin Touchais, which we tasted while living in London. Then, when working at Beaumont I realised the full potential of Bot River’s suitability to this grape variety, and ever since we started Luddite I couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle and start making Chenin again.

The story came full circle three years ago when I was back in London presenting a Chenin Blanc tasting. Based on the quality and enjoyment of those wines I immediately phoned our nurseryman – from London – and told him to source Chenin vines for Luddite. Then I phoned Penny and told her to prepare the soil and plant – it was an impulse buy if ever there was one!

Hopefully, if the buck stay away, we should have our own Chenin grapes for the 2014 vintage. In the interim it was important to source some good grapes to start the ball rolling, which we acquired from an old vineyard down the Van Der Stel Pass in Bot River to our Luddite Chenin 2012.’

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Filed under CHENIN

The Story Behind Luddite’s Saboteur

Niels explains his motivation for the Luddite red blend, Saboteur

‘Saboteur was born out of a dilemma we face every vintage, that is what to do with the good wine that just doesn’t suit the style of the Luddite Shiraz? So we created a wine with which we can express innovative blends, such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre, and christened it Saboteur.

It’s a name very much rooted in the Luddite story because the definition of a saboteur is a person who engages in sabotage, which is essentially what the Luddites did to the labour-saving looms during the Industrial Revolution. Some say the word sabotage has its origins in workers throwing their shoes into machinery to jam the cogs – from the French word sabot meaning ‘wooden shoe’. And Saboteur’s connection to wooden clogs is fitting, since the Verburgs are of Dutch descent!

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