SUSTAINABILITY & CONSERVATION
By sharing the land amongst all the stakeholders and training people to understand and appreciate – as well as work on – the land, Delheim is fostering a system that yields a livelihood for everyone- one that will continue to do so for future generations.
With 375 hectares of land situated in the beautiful Simonsberg Ward of Stellenbosch, Delheim is a keen exponent of the wine industry’s movement to conserve the region and tackles everything naturally so that life on the farm may thrive, as it should.
Some interesting facts
- Delheim won the Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices Award in 2008.
- A bio-natural water management plant recycles all waste water on the farm which is then used to irrigate all of our gardens. Dripper lines and soil moisture probes have replaced the old sprinkler system, reducing water usage by 70%.
- Delheim is a wonderful example of viticulture with an environmental conscience. We’ve taken great care to preserve substantial tracts of pristine, mountain fynbos and has carefully developed an assortment of dams, ponds and waterways that promote a wonderful diversity of bird-life. Over 50 different bird species have been identified, including the Common Fiscal, Black Sparrowhawk, Cape Spurfowl, Common Starling, Orange-Breasted Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Southern Double-Collared Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Cape Wagtail, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Common Waxbill, Cape Weaver, Cape White-Eye, Bar-Throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop, Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, Cape Bulbul, Jackal Buzzard, Brimstone Canary, Cape Canary, Grey-Backed Cisticola, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Reed Cormorant, White-Breasted Cormorant, Pied Crow, Cape Turtle-Dove, Laughing Dove, Red-Eyed Dove, Rock Dove, Fork-Tailed Drongo, Yellow-Billed Duck, Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, African Dusky Flycatcher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Egyptian Goose, Cape Grassbird, Helmeted Guineafowl, Kelp Gull, African Harrier-Hawk, Grey Heron, African Sacred Ibis, Hadeda Ibis, Yellow-Billed Kite, Speckled Mousebird, Neddicky, Speckled Pigeon, Karoo Prinia, White-Necked Raven , Cape Robin-Chat, Fish Eagle & Klaas’s Cuckoo.
- Delheim is home to 120 different species of indigenous plants, a variety of trees and shrubs, and a range of reptiles – such as tortoises, lizards and snakes – and mammals, including vlei rats, striped mice, duikers, dassies and porcupines.
- We have an extensive recycling programme in place, and all paper, plastic, glass, metal and organic matter is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Solar panels provide hot water for farm houses and restaurants.
- We have designed a unique spray system combined with an energy efficient tractor which has halved fuel usage in the vineyards, reduced water usage by 60% and chemical usage by two thirds.
- The farm also makes use of special John Deere tractors for spraying purposes. These tractors are equipped with an economical gear, so enabling the engines of the tractors to function at a lower revolution and thus using less fuel.
- Various filling points for sprayers to refill close to the vineyard reduces our fuel footprint.
- We use parasitic insects to control pests in the vineyards, and plant cover crops to constrain weed growth, thereby curbing the use of harmful chemicals.
- We plant corridors of flowering indigenous vegetation to attract natural preditors of vine pests.
- Regular alien clearing takes place in our forest and fynbos areas.
- A number of eco-tourism and eco-friendly initiatives have been introduced to help protect the area and sustain the local community. We offer mountain biking trails in a pristine habitat with stunning views. Visit www.dirtopia.co.za for more details.
WWF Conservation Champion
Delheim Wines is a WWF Conservation Champion– acknowledged as an environmental leader in the industry for our commitment to conservation, responsible production practices, integrated environmental management systems, and spearheading innovations in water, energy efficiency and climate adaptation.
Having introduced its sophisticated waste water management plan on the farm, Delheim became the seventh South African wine farm to achieve this status. To qualify as a Champion, a member must develop a Conservation Management Plan for approval, and then demonstrate and prove that it has implemented key scheduled activities within the plan. Champions must have had a minimum two-year track record of good conservation practice and, once awarded Championship status, must present tangible results of their commitment to biodiversity conservation regularly.
Nora Sperling-Thiel says: “We’ve been farming this land for many years and we understand how important it is to put back what you take out. We owe it to the land and to the wine industry to cherish our environment. We are committed to living up to our new Championship status.”
As it takes five litres of water to make one litre of wine, Delheim has installed a highly sophisticated water purification system to recycle all the water on the farm. All its water from the cellar, the restaurant, the residences and all the farm buildings, is recycled. The waste water passes through a newly created natural wetland with indigenous reeds and marginal plants before being pumped into an irrigation dam. The recycled water is now used to irrigate the vines and gardens, through drip irrigation to prevent wastage.
The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy
The Conservancy was established in 2004 as part of Cape Nature’s Stewardship Programme. The Conservancy started out under the name “Klapmutskop Conservancy” with five farms – Delheim, Elsenburg, East Hill, Le Bonheur and Warwick. The Conservancy has since grown to the current 19 farms, and is now known as The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy. These wine farms act as curators of the conservancy and plough their efforts into protecting and conserving the area through sustainable practices.
On the Klapmutskop (which forms part of Delheim’s Vera Cruz property) a 300-year old yellowwood was discovered and is recorded as the oldest tree in an indigenous yellowwood forest in the country. South Africa’s national tree, the Silver tree, occurs naturally at Delheim and there is a pair of breeding Blue Cranes (our national bird) on the farm. Fish eagles are seen and heard regularly at Delheim.
A Biodiversity Information Centre has been established at Delvera, which is the hub for the Conservancy. This centre helps to create awareness among visitors about conservation management, anything from bio-control to waste water management and recycling. It has led the introduction of a number of ecotourism and eco-friendly initiatives to help protect the area and sustain the people that work in the conservancy. Some initiatives include hiking and biking trails, outdoor classrooms and a renosterveld education programme, the establishment of a nursery, a bird hide and the maintenance of the conservancy through alien clearing and replanting of indigenous species. So far, one ‘red list’ species has been found and the Kew Millennium Seed Bank Project has been collecting seeds.
Klapmutskop Renosterveld Conservancy Map