Reyneke Cornerstone: A Love Letter
Full disclosure, I am obsessed with all things Reyneke, a gorgeous biodynamic wine farm in Stellenbosch. I am friends with one of the winemakers (Hey, Nuschka), but my love for Reyneke started years before I met her, so I swear I am not biased!
In 2018 I was dogsitting for some friends who lived on the Reyneke farm, and I was lucky enough to get to walk through the vineyards daily. Gorgeous gnarly old vines, rolling hills, and breathtaking panoramic views.
One day I got to sit down with Johan Reyneke, taste the range, and hear the story of the farm. It was my first time hearing in-depth about biodynamic, organic, and dry farming. To hear him tell it was such an honor. But my favorite story was that of the Cornerstone wine.
In biodynamics, everything and everybody needs to be happy and harmonious, from the vines and the soils to the people, chickens, and cows. Proceeds from the Cornerstone wine goes to supporting the farmworkers. Which in South Africa is more important than ever.
In the early 2000s, Reyneke was on the brink of closure when a woman popped by for a tasting. She met with Johan and loved the philosophy and story behind the wines. I believed she worked for CNN, and they were doing a gala in Johannesburg honoring South Africa; she asked if Johan could showcase his wines.
Johan and his wines make it to Johannesburg, and the woman says she has a surprise. Then, Nelson Mandela walks into the room, he thanks Johan for his work, and says that kind of compassion is what he wants South Africa to be about.
I still get chills thinking about that.
When I started writing this, it was going to be a tasting note, but I would instead call on others to be compassionate. We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.
To people outside of South Africa. Please help by buying South African wines. Our domestic prohibition has our wine industry trying to survive on exports alone, which only makes up about about 20% of regular sales.