Making grappa the organic way – the story of Upland Organic Estate
Upland’s owner/distiller Dr Edmund Oettlé created the English version of Boland and came up with the tongue-in-cheek version: Upland. Cradled by the Hawekwa mountain range, this small, QCS certified fruit and wine farm is tucked away in a corner at the end of a dirt road which leads out of Wellington.
Approximately ten hectares of fertile alluvial soil along the river and 37 hectares of steep land, which runs up towards the mountain, create this beautiful corner of the world. This setting means the farm is protected from the southeasterly wind, and creates a microclimate suitable for a variety of fruit and nut trees not normally grown in the Cape.
- Upland Organic Estate has been producing – among others – world class organic brandy and grappa for over a decade. (Upland’s organic Grappa won the ‘World’s Best Grappa’ at the Guldkorken International Competition in Stockholm and its list of international and local awards is impressive)
Why organic farming?
What makes Upland unique is the dedication of its owners – for the past 26 years, Edmund and his wife, Elsie, have implemented organic farming techniques. But, he points out, organic farming requires long-term economical viability and sustainability: “natural fertilizers and pest control is not a quick-fix solution, but rather a slow, sustainable process”.
The Upland motto plays on the words ‘our products don’t cost the earth’ and the Oettlé’s believe whole-heartedly in the need to be good stewards of the resources which Upland has been blessed with.
Making grappa the organic way
Organic grapes have small, loose berries, a high skin to juice ratio and therefor greater extraction and flavour than conventional grapes. “Conventional grapes may look better and give bigger yeilds, but have less nutrients,” says Edmund. These are the skins, pips and stalks which are ultimately fermented and distilled to produce Upland’s award-winning grappa.
The implementation of organic methods of agriculture helps to maintain the balance of nature and ensures the production of high quality fruit without damaging the environment… giving meaning to Upland’s maxim their products don’t cost the earth!
Choosing to stay close to nature has resulted in an increase in bird and animal life and created a haven for a wide variety of rare species in the surrounding area. In 1995 Edmund chose to implement natural and organic processes, using no pesticides or chemicals. Over time this has invigorated the land where the vines are planted. “We were the first organic winery back then,” he explains, “…before it was even a word. People thought I was crazy and would lose my harvest!”
Today Upland produces a range of award-winning organic wines as well as brandy and of course his outstanding grappa.
Upland products don’t Cost the Earth