The winery is a result of the iLembe Vineyards project, with the objective being to plant and harvest vines with the intention of producing some or all of the following, i.e. wine, brandy, juice and the production of table grapes. Villard Blanc was identified as a grape cultivar that is ideal for the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal as it is resistant to humidity. Attributes of this cultivar are as follows:
(Note that these attributes are from practical experience with Villard Blanc vineyards planted in the Western and Northern Cape provinces).
• It is highly fertile (can produce large crops).
• It has natural vigorous growth (requires relatively low fertiliser application, if any).
• It can be cultivated on its own roots, but the best performance has been noted with grafted vines. The rootstock 101-14 mgt is recommended.
• It is fairly disease resistant, especially with regards to Downy Mildew (it is susceptible to powdery mildew) – thus crop protection will be necessary.
• Suitable for winemaking as well as distilling purposes, there are however certain challenges according to literature.
The iLembe Vineyards project is an agro processing business with an Agri tourism component. It takes 3 years for vineyards to be planted before they can be harvested. The ultimate goal of the project is to capitalise on the catalytic effect of a vineyard, and the ability to create economically viable projects and industries supporting and surrounding the vineyards. To date 10.1 hectares of vines have been planted across 3 local municipalities.
These vines are progressing well with the first harvest having taken place in February 2013. The iLembe Winery has been built at Collisheen Estate just outside of Ballito and is equipped with machinery that have the capacity of producing 120 000 bottles of wine per season. The winery produces a dry white wine.
A brand name has been conceptualised and developed for the wine which is now called 'SEVENTEEN EIGHTY SEVEN' (1787) - this is the year of King Shaka's birth. King Shaka was a significant historical figure in the Ballito region, so it is a rather fitting name for the winery.
The iLembe Vineyards project has created 49 direct jobs so far, and we are confident that it will continue to create many jobs in the future.