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Wine Farm Experience

This farm is a family-run boutique wine estate that has successfully grown in size and reputation since its beginnings in 2008. They also assist the historically disadvantaged local community by constantly helping community members to participate in the local economy.

Wine Farm Experience

Overview:

Location The Crags, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Duration From 2 - 12 weeks
Dates All year round
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, tasting and promotion
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 area and broader Garden Route region.
  • Choose from a long list of adventure activities to add to your experience – including the world’s highest bridge bungy, swimming with seals, marine safari’s, river-rafting, sky-diving and many more.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Information about the farm

The farm is a family established, owned and managed boutique wine estate that has successfully grown in size and reputation since its humble beginnings in 2008 when the first pioneering hectare of Sauvignon Blanc was planted. In the intervening years, the estate has developed further vineyards and introduced additional grape cultivar varietals. The wine farm produces both white and red wines plus traditional bottle-fermented champagne known in South Africa as MCC – Method Cap Classique. Cultivars include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Sangiovese. These wines are available at tasting sessions as well as a standard menu feature of their lunch-time-only restaurant offering ‘uncomplicated farm-style cuisine’ where guests are advised to arrive hungry. The open setting adjacent to a small dam quickly lets one shrug off the routine pressures of urban living and lose track of time.

The owners are justifiably proud of what they have achieved to date, for in every phase they have not only envisaged and planned what was required but have had a direct involvement in its very implementation while working alongside their small team of core staff to direct their training and development. If a water system needed fitting, they did it; if meal menus had to be prepared and tested, they did it. So virtually all aspects of the estate, their produce and the hospitality on offer, have been typified by direct contributions from the owners who have a deep-rooted practical knowledge of what works – something the typical volunteer can draw on to add to their personal set of skills and experience.

In addition, they are positively directed towards the strategic objective of further empowering members of the historically disadvantaged local community by constantly exploring means of broadening their economic participation through adding to their skills via crafts, cash crop cultivation and other means. Volunteers will be expected to contribute of their skills and time to further these activities. 

Volunteers are involved in a wide range of wine-specific agricultural activities including initial ground-breaking and preparation of new vineyards, trellis construction, irrigation network installation, planting, care of existing and new vines, the busy harvest period, pruning and wine maturation. 

Your Role

The general farming activities are on the go seven days a week while restaurant hospitality activities tend to peak from Fridays through to Sundays but are closed on Mondays. By arrangement, you may be requested to work in hospitality for part or all of the weekend and receive other days of the week off in lieu of this.

However, 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 20.00. The outdoor hot tub is 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. You are welcome to sleep late, make your own cooked breakfast and make plans to visit Plettenberg Bay (please note shops, but not supermarkets, close at 13.00 on Saturday and Sunday) for personal pursuits and/or enjoy some of the many local attractions – whether going to the beach, hiking or doing more adrenalin-filled activities.
  • 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 the seasonal nature of the vine and wine cycle PLUS the heightened hospitality demands from October to Easter as well as the peak year-end summer season will result in a different focus on activities at different times of the year, so a placement during the South African summer will be substantially different to one during the more dormant mid-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

You will stay in a backpackers’ based in The Crags, a rural suburb of greater Plettenberg Bay. The backpackers’ is set in a 5-hectare small-holding amidst indigenous forest and open grazing pastures. You are accommodated in shared rooms and/or in under-cover luxury Safari bow-tents that come fully equipped with carpets, beds, linen, electric blankets, lights etc. You will, where required, be sharing with one or two other volunteers. There are numerous bathrooms for communal access and use. The main homestead is equipped with an office, TV lounge, two kitchens plus a large verandah, with a residents’ bar, and two fire-hearths for those chilly nights. It is here that guests and hosts gather for social interaction and where evening meals are served for all to enjoy. Immediately adjacent is an outdoor braai (BBQ) area, while close by, is a combination plunge pool/hot-tub (the latter fired up for Fridays) plus a golf practice putting green and a proper boule/petanque track where guests soon get to know their co-guests. Bedding and towels are provided and your laundry will be regularly done on a wash-and-fold basis by the housekeeper. Free WiFi is available at the main homestead area only.

Testimonials

Raissa from Brazil

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"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!"