“Wine to me is passion.  It’s family and friends.  It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.  Wine is art.  It’s culture.  It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.” – Robert Mondavi

In 1926 Charles Boyd Varty and Frank Unger, great-grandfathers of the Varty & Taylor clans, stood before the mighty Sand river and shaped the foundations of Londolozi.  The vision and potential these two men saw in the bush has endured over the years along with the same granite rocks in the river.

Presidents and royalty were hosted for two generations and hunters shot and killed the wild animals.  Thirty-five years ago this came to an end with John, Dave and Shan Varty who together as a family shared a dream to build a world class destination and create the blueprint for modern day conservation in Southern Africa.

Londolozi is a privately owned game reserve built on solid foundations with almost a century of family history.  Londolozi is socially, economically and environmentally responsible.  We welcome all, explore frontiers and exceed expectations.

At Londolozi the Varty family values can be seen everywhere – the personalized service, the commitment to conservation, the ambience of simplicity and elegance, and in the welcome our guests receive on arrival.

At Londolozi there are many different family groups, all joined by their commitment to Londolozi and its values.  Some of these family members are third generation, striving to build life long bonds with one another, guests and nature.  All these values follow through with everything that we do, including what wine we serve.

When we look at choosing a new wine for the wine list, first and foremost, before we actually taste the wine to see if it’s any good, we check to see if the winery / estate / producer is privately owned and run by family or friend units.  We investigate if the producer is socially and environmentally responsible.  And only once these boxes have been checked, do we gather a tasting panel together comprising of wine loving staff members to blind taste the wine.

Another very important point, other than the French Champagne we stock, is that we only allow South African wine on our list.  We believe that South African wine is just as good as the best from Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and other great wine producing areas and want to promote our wine-growing region as much as possible.

So with all that, we have just listed a new wine: Springfield “Wild Yeast” Chardonnay 2011!


Springfield Estate is based in the Robertson region of the Western Cape.  Springfield is a family-run wine farm owned by the Bruwer family who are fourth generation wine farmers and ninth generation descendants of the Bruères, French Huguenots who came to South Africa from the Loire in 1688 with bundles of vines under their arms.

The present owners, brother-and-sister team, Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer, are assisted by a team of dedicated workers, many of whom have been with the Bruwers for decades.  Abrie oversees the viticulture of the land and makes the wine.  Jeanette co-ordinates the marketing of the wine.

Abrie is passionate about wine and believes in producing wine as naturally as possible with a policy of minimal intervention in the cellar.

With Springfield’s natural approach to winemaking they also have eco-friendly practices in the vineyards.  Spraying is kept to a minimum and an army of ducks patrols the vineyards eating snails.  Irrigation is only done when absolutely necessary to relieve grape stress.


Instead of using commercial yeasts in the fermentation process, the use of natural, wild yeast that adheres to the skins of the grapes when harvested is practiced to a large extent.  Hence the name “Wild Yeast” Chardonnay.

So how is it that a grape can have its own wild yeast?  Grapes are designed to attract birds with its sugar and with this spread its seeds.  These seeds would have an advantage above the rest as they are fertilized with the bird droppings.  However, if the birds don’t show up then the grape would want to re-use the sugar it has worked so hard on to produce.  So over time grapes have developed a unique system to ferment this sugar.  The grape first develops a waxy layer to attract the wild yeast which it needs to ferment the sugar.  The yeast then breaks down the skin and ferments this sugar into alcohol.  A vinegar bacterium which is also present will turn the “wild wine” into an organic type of vinegar which then drips onto the floor and nourishes the mother plant.


Springfield allows these fickle yeasts to live in the vineyard by not using any sprays to kill them.  They endure their temperament while they ferment the wine in the cellar.  And only if it is special enough, do they present it, like the mother vine, to the wild world.

This wine is made from Chardonnay grapes from 12 – 16 year old vines.  It is tank fermented and left for thirteen months on the lees (dead yeast cells which can impart flavours such as biscuit, croissants, toast, butter and brioche).

This is an unoaked / unwooded Chardonnay, very complex in style, with flavours of pineapple and pear drops with nutty yeasty cookie dough.

It would pair very well with cob with lemon, herb and fennel sauce, chicken makhani or a vichyssoise soup.


Springfield is very well known for their “Life from Stone” Sauvignon Blanc, have you tried this?  Do you prefer oaked or unoaked Chardonnay?

About the Author

Kim Drake

Wine Curator

“When a winemaker gets the wine right, it is pure joy, like sipping a wonderfully painted artwork from the Louvre.” These are the words of Kim Drake, Londolozi’s Procurement Manager turned part-time Sommelier. Kim’s love of wine first started developing in 2010, shortly ...

View Kim's profile


on Family Owned, Family Run Wine

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Well researched and written. The Wild Yeast Chardonnay look so good, can’t wait to taste it. Will be lovely on a warm summer evening.

Kim Drake

It’s a wonderfully complex Chardonnay which can very easily be enjoyed on a lovely winter’s evening as well!


Nice blog, Kim. Sounds good to try -much prefer unpacked Chardonnay too!


Unoaked! Sorry predictive text!

Kim Drake

Thanks Judes, a well oaked Chardonnay is great but this special gem is definitely one of the best unoaked Chardonnay’s I’ve had in a long time.

Ryan James

A great addition to the wine list Kim. The Robertson wine region is fantastic. Unfortunately it is dwarfed by Stellenbosch, but I would recommend Robertson to visitors as a really worth-while day trip. There are some great restaurants in the town for lunch as well.

Kim Drake

Robertson is a great area to visit with a lot of special wine farms with some great wines coming from the region. Springfield Estate does tastings Mondays to Fridays 0800 to 1700 and Saturdays 0900 to 1600. They also do guided tours of the estate as long it is pre-arranged. Whilst in the area one should pop round to Graham Beck for some bubbles!

Mike Sutherland

Great blog Kimbo! Very educational and inspiring to see a great new family wine on the list! Thanks for all the info! The ducks are especially fascinating!

Kim Drake

More and more wine farms are starting to follow this trend of using ducks to get rid of pests, Vergenoegd, Avondale, Ken Forrester, this list goes on. Much better than spraying pesticides!

Kate Collins

Thank you Kim for another fantastic wine blog. I am looking forward to trying the Springfield ‘Wild Yeast’ chardonnay.

Kim Drake

Thanks Kate, we shall have to crack open a bottle soon. We have plenty of stock so more than enough for all!

Dave Mills

Completely agree that many (most?) South African wines match or exceed wines from other parts of the world. Alas, in my corner of the United States, South African wines are difficult to find. That’s a shame. We’re missing some great tastes. Thanks for another delightful blog. Keep up the great work.

Kim Drake

Thanks for the lovely comment Dave, unfortunately the demand has become so high for our wine that producers are even battling to keep up with local supply. All the more reason to come visit South Africa though, then you can drink the wine from the source!


Great blog again Kimbo, am loving reading and learning more from your incredible passion. Thank you


A wine even better enjoyed I am sure in the luxurious and relaxing surrounds of Londolozi and the Sabi Sands I am sure – a good enough of en excuse as I could ever find to visit again!
Awesome and informative – clearly you know your wine (certainly not from countless hours around the boma fire and beneath the starry African skies im sure ;)!)

Kim Drake

Thanks for the comments Mark, spending countless hours around the boma fire drinking one is one of the best ways to learn more about it!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile