Radford DaleStellenbosch, SA
Radford Dale was founded in 1998 by winemakers Ben Radford and Alex Dale.
They aim to produce wines that are both innovative but also sustainable and with a healthy respect for tradition. They buy grapes from across the mountainous viticultural sub-regions of the Helderberg area in Stellenbosch, Elgin, and the Perderberg area in the Swartland. Despite being a modern winery, they seek to preserve the sense of terroir by working with as little intervention as possible. Disease-fighting chemicals, pesticides and additives are now outlawed in the production because of the care taken to promote the vine's health and own immune system; a living ecosystem is also encouraged, promoting beneficial microorganisms and decreasing the effect of nasty ones. They have also replaced fertiliser with a composting system and bottle with as little sulphur as possible with certain wines even bottled with zero sulphur. As well as the Radford Dale range, which uses some of the best sites in the area, they also produce the Winery of Good Hope range, which adhere to many of the same principals of the premium wines, but at a price point which offers exceptional value for money.
Alex Dale who was born in Burgundy although schooled in the UK (and has the classic public school boy accent to show for it!) is no the figurehead of the company. Alex's broad smile and easy, sociable manner hide a keen determination and fierce commitment to his work and what is his mission of producing some of the finest and most elegant natural wines in his adopted home country. Although Radford Dale, like most other SA wine makers do not own vines, Alex has worked very hard to cultivate very close relationships with the growers he buys from and in doing so has steered them towards natural sustainable farming and a quality focus. This is no easy task when a ton of grapes is typically worth about half of a ton of apples in South Africa. He has achieved this by promoting quality and talking about sustainability and the future of Cape wine when many growers are still spraying their vines liberally. He also puts his money where his mouth is and pays 2 or 3 times more for his fruit than the going rate.
The results of this labour of love are there for all to taste. Radford Dale wines get better and better with every vintage and Alex's fantastic team of both young and experienced wine makers and viticulturists are pushing the boundaries every year to find the sweet spot between maturity and freshness. The 2018 wines are stunning and should be on the way quite soon. Alex Dale is a self confessed workaholic and spends some 6 months of the year travelling the world selling and talking about his wines. He is a great example to Cape wine making and shows the potential of this diverse and fascinating wine making country.