Botanica Wines, Stellenbosch


Ginny Povall

The Discovery of Botanica

Ginny Povall is a self-taught American winemaker who bought a luxury guest house and flower farm in Devon Valley and planted a few hectares of vines there for the future. While she waits for them to mature and bear their own fruit, Ginny made her first wine, the Botanica Chenin Blanc from 50-year-old vines, dry farmed near Clanwilliam. Total production was only 4,295 bottles.

The wine was made at Zorgvliet with Neil Moorhouse at hand. And it is one of passion: “I always wanted to own a vineyard somewhere, produce the best grapes possible. My winemaking experience, if you can call it that, is really just making small batches at home in the US from grapes available locally, shipped from California or Argentina sort of like baking bread from a recipe book.” Well, Ginny Povall’s recipe turned out pretty smartly. Her first wine, the Chenin Blanc Botanica 2009 was one of only two examples of Chenin Blanc out of 58 wines to be rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2011 Guide. What is striking about this wine is just how subtle and understated it is: there’s stone fruit on nose and palate, pure but not exaggerated, while a slight sweetness and bright acidity play off against each other to good advantage. And she made a second wine, a fabulous Pinot Noir. Only 260 cases were produced.

Her 2010 Botanica Pinot Noir got 4.5 stars from Platter and is stunning! The vines are twenty-five years old, and the fruit was handpicked, hand sorted, de-stemmed but not crushed. Whole berry fermentation was conducted in open tanks, after which it was matured in 65% new French oak barrels for nine months. Bottled without filtration or fining. If you decant it for four hours, you can drink it now, but better to mature in a cool cellar until at least 2017. Ginny’s inspiration for her Botanica labels have been the collage work of 18th century English artist and writer Mary Delany.