Rooibos Inspires a Preservative-Free Wine

Audacia, a “Red Wine Boutique Winery” in South Africa’s Stellenbosch region, has developed a new method of creating preservative-free wine using rooibos and honeybush.

Audacia's preservative-free wine (Image - Audacia)

Audacia’s preservative-free wine (Image – Audacia)

The technique is intended for use in the making of wine, cider and beer. The concept is reinforced by research at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology. These studies showed that the antioxidants in rooibos and honeybush might be able to preserve the wine without frequently used additives like sulphur dioxide and synthetic preservatives.

The idea of wine produced with rooibos was dreamed up by Trevor Strydom, owner of Audacia.  His partner Paul Harris had been encouraging him to find a “blue ocean” opportunity, a fresh and new approach that would be wide open for experimentation. Strydom began to research alternatives to oak in making wine. A cup of rooibos prepared by his daughter provided the inspiration he needed.

logoStrydom worked with his winemaker Michael van Niekerk, adding teabags full of rooibos to their wine. They realized that this strategy enabled them to consider removing sulphur, an ingredient that is allergenic for some wine drinkers. They now hold the patent to the process of using rooibos wood chips in place of oak for their production. The rooibos and honeybush add flavor, but few tannins and no caffeine. The rooibos and honeybush variations, created with a 2013 merlot, first hit the market as a “no sulphites or preservatives added” wine in 2014.

Some in the industry believe that preservative-free wine could hold appeal for health reasons. “The launch of this new category of wine will allow people who are allergic to Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), or other preservatives often used in winemaking, to enjoy a glas of wine without the normal side effects associated with sulphite preservatives,” says van Niekerk on Audacia’s website.”

Audacia, a 32 hectare farm, is located on the Bonte River and has been a working farm since 1930. Strydom’s family and the Harris family became partners and owners of this property in 2002.

SOURCE: Reuters and Audacia