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Wine Farm Experience

Research supported thinking that the cooler sea breezes against the nearby coastal mountain range were ideal for the production of quality white wines. The Region has since then expanded to 16 vineyards with 10 boutique estates producing their own wine from a extended range of white and red cultivars.
The initial plantings were primarily the Sauvignon Blanc cultivar, processed as a still white it was the first in the country to undergo traditional bottle-fermentation to produce a sparkling champagne known as CC – Cap Classique in South Africa. Subsequently other cultivars, both white and red, have been introduced and thier wines (sparkling, white and reds) have enjoyed favourable receptions at presentations and reaped numerous awards.  

Wine Farm Experience

Overview:

Location The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Duration From 2 - 12 weeks
Dates February – November (Anyone wishing to stay over December MUST commence by mid- November)
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: Practical energy and a willingness to embrace the many learning opportunities that can be experienced in viticulture, estate management, wine production and promotion via tasting presentations and restaurant hospitality.
Minimum Age: 18
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Sunday
Day of departure Sunday

Highlights

  • Gain thorough hands-on exposure to all practical aspects of boutique wine-estate management, from vineyard preparation and maintenance to harvest and wine maturation. 
  • Enjoy practical hands-on involvement in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ processes of general farming and wine-estate agricultural practices.
  • Participate in the diverse daily activities of a small, busy and highly successful production wine estate plus their highly popular restaurant.
  • Stay in a scenic environment where the general routine and bustle of urban living can be escaped.
  • Experience the many naturally beautiful areas in the immediate Plettenberg Bay region and broader Garden Route district.
  • Choose from a long list of outdoor and adventure activities to add to your experience – including the world’s highest bridge bungy, swimming with seals, marine safari’s, river-rafting, skydiving and many more.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Information about the project

Volunteers are involved in a wide range of wine-specific agricultural activities inclusive of vineyard field management, new trellis construction and existing trellis maintenance, irrigation networks, planting, the care and training of new vine growth, the busy harvest and pressing period, vine pruning for the next season, plus then wine maturation and bottling.

The annual cycle of primary activities is:

  • January: Preparing cellars for pressing season
  • February & March: Staggered harvest and pressing activities depending on seasonal conditions and cultivar
  • April: Preparing new vineyards
  • May: General maintenance
  • June & July: Pruning after leaves have fallen and new planting preparation
  • August: Ploughing in of cover crop
  • September: Trellising and spring fertilizer
  • October: Tipping: the removal of the first 2-5 cm of growing shoot to enhance development and allow the fruit to set better
  • November: Topping: the removal of 15-25 cm of a young growing shoot, by hitting it off with a strong switch or thin stick to allow good air circulation and prevent disease
  • December: Irrigation, hedging and disease control

The estate’s hospitality arm includes wine presentations and tastings of their produce in a dedicated centre plus their restaurant and kitchen surrounded by the estate vineyards.

Once volunteers have mastered the technical aspects of what the estate wines are about and seen how tastings plus the restaurant and kitchen works, they have the opportunity to add variety to their regular routine by participating in these public interface hospitality elements.

Your Role

The general farming activities are usually a Monday to Friday cycle but could include weekends during the busy harvest and pressing time. The restaurant and tasting activities tend to peak from Fridays through to Sundays so are closed on Mondays.

The general routine programme for Mondays to Fridays could look like this:

  • From 07.00: Breakfast.
  • 07.45 – 07.50: Transfer from your accommodation to the project.
  • 08.00 – 13.00: Participation in routine morning activities according to the overall seasonal programme – a mix of farm related activities (vineyards, grapes, harvest, pruning, wine maturation) or kitchen (catering preparation) and restaurant hospitality. 
  • 13.00 – 14.00: Lunch break – flexible and varied and may be split when involved with the restaurant over this busy time period.
  • 14.00 – 17.00: Afternoon programme as required; and after your work transfer from the project to your accommodation.
  • 17.00 onwards: Leisure time.
  • 19.00 – 19.30: Dinner with the team and leisure time.

Weekends:

  • Friday evenings: Traditionally, a braai (BBQ) takes place on Fridays with the meal served around 8 PM. The outdoor hot tub is often fired up for this evening. You are also free to make arrangements to head into Plettenberg Bay if your wish to enjoy the nightlife there.
  • Saturdays: Generally, this is a free day so open to individual choice. 
  • Sundays: As on Saturdays, you can enjoy free time. Please note that most shops are closed.

Any public holidays, whether falling on weekdays or weekends, will follow the Saturday/Sunday routine.

Please note that seasonal changes will result in a different focus on activities at different times of the year.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

Accommodation

The accommodation is set in a 5-hectare small-holding amidst indigenous forest and open grazing pastures in The Crags and about 25 minutes from the main town of Plettenberg Bay.

You are accommodated in fully equipped, shared two-bed rooms, with bedding & towel provided, so might be sharing with another volunteer of the same gender. There are numerous bathrooms for communal access and use. Volunteers have full use of the well-equipped kitchen plus the two verandah areas - with large fire-places. It is here that guests and hosts gather for social interaction and where evening meals are served for all to enjoy.

A large group entertainment area complete with an under-cover combination plunge-pool/hot tub, a bar facility plus an outdoor braai (BBQ) area are provided. Friday is officially declared as “Braai day” with local residents visiting for sundowners and a braai to mark the end of the week with the team and guests. The property also provides a golf practice putting green and a proper boule/petanque track.
Free WiFi is available at the main homestead and entertainment areas only.

Three daily meals are provided. You will make your own breakfast and lunch. Both vegetarian & vegan options, as well as any special dietary requirements, are available.

Testimonials

Good Hope Volunteers Raissa from Brazil

"The wine farm project is a complete experience with wine, food and people. You learn everything about growing grapes, tasting wine and food and how this combination can make people feel happy! This was an unforgettable experience!"