Audacia Wines is set to turn the local wine-making industry upside-down with an innovative technique using the indigenous plant extracts as a means to preserve wine free of sulphites and preservatives.
Instead of using imported oak-wood derivatives like staves, chips and powders usually utilised in the wine production process, Audacia Wines uses rooibos wood, Business Day reports.
Research conducted by Stellenbosh University and ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij found that powerful anti-oxidants contained in rooibos could serve as a natural wine preservative and thus eliminating the need for sulphur dioxide and other synthetic materials in the production of wine.
The patent covers all wine, beer and cider made using rooibos wood during production and is being hailed as a “significant” industry development, particularly for organic wine makers.
Trevor Strydom, a partner at Audacia Wines, told SABC News that the idea to use rooibos in the wine production process three years ago during a tea break.
“I’d been searching for about nine months, working with my winemaker to try and find an alternative wood for oak, and I came home from the cellar and my daughter said: ‘Dad, why are you looking so depressed?’ And I said: ‘Sarah Jane, I cannot find a wood,” he recalled.
“And she said: ‘Dad, you must have faith.’ She made me a cup of tea and then she put the rooibos pack down on the table and that was the eureka moment.”
Audacia’s first rooibos-wooded wine is a 2013 Merlot which contains 3mg/l of natural sulphites. Legally, the SA limit for sulphites in table wines is 150mg/l.
The winery is currently working on a shiraz and cabernet sauvignon that is expected to be released soon.
Strydom told the newspaper that the company exports small quantities to China. It also supplies the wine to select Pick n Pay stores.
Audacia Wines has won several local and international awards including a gold medal at the Global Craft Beer Awards in Berlin, Germany.