CENTS & SENSIBILITY
There are very few wine farms in South Africa which do not have a dog
as part of the staff complement. While ostensibly employed for security
purposes as early warning systems, most wine farm dogs are in fact
much loved members of the extended family. Canines feature prominently
on a number of wine labels too. The most notable example being
Beyerskloof’s Diesel Pinotage, a 5 Star Platter laureate in the 2010 edition
of the popular wine guide. Diesel was an imposing Great Dane/Boerbul
crossbreed belonging to globally acclaimed winemaker and South African
Pinotage prophet, Beyers Truter. “When Diesel started eating the grapes
off the vine I knew the time was right to pick the Pinotage,” Truter often stated.
But not all dogs are as fortunate. The Stellenbosch Animal Welfare Society
wages an ongoing battle for funding. This organisation does much needed
work in the greater winelands community, offering spaying and dipping clinics
and veterinary services along with adoptions, removal of maltreated animals and
In a grassroots initiative to raise funds, certain animal inclined wine producers
have thrown their weight behind a sticker campaign. Kicking off the scheme is
Lorna Hughes of Stonehill wines who has already attached them to 20 000 bottles.
“I’m a sucker for rescue animals,” she says. “After all, I’ve named my wine after
one of my (eight!) dogs. She’d been found abandoned in a rubbish bin … and after
being nursed back to health has become my constant companion.”
Because of her bristly facial hair the wire-haired mutt is appropriately called Bristle
– as are two of Lorna’s wines, Bristle Red and Bristle White. These are also the
first two wines bearing the distinctive silver and blue Animal Welfare sticker.
“The thinking is that wine producers buy the stickers for their bottles and the
proceeds – a matter of a few cents per bottle – goes straight to the Animal
Welfare. It’s a cause that’s close to my heart and is a really simple but easy way
of helping those creatures which bring us such joy but which don’t have a voice.”
Also signed up for the scheme is Ian Naudé of Adoro wines, himself the owner of
four rescue dogs – all Border Collies, one of which features as Miss December in
the Animal Welfare Society’s 2010 calendar!
“If wine farms purchased a few thousand stickers each, that would mean a
significant amount of money for the Welfare and would enable them to expand \
their services and reduce the constant fundraising grind,” Naudé said.