When we first saw Slent, it felt as if we had finally come home. This amazing country was deep in our hearts.
Stone Age hand axes found on the farm speak to us of our earliest ancestors, and Slent’s more modern colonial history connects us to the pioneers who dared all to settle on these fertile slopes. We wish to keep this farm deeply connected to its vibrant past, and to grow the place and its people towards an even better future.
We have worked hard to understand climate, soils, varietals, bio-diversity and different cultures. It has taken some time to adapt Italian roots to all this. But belief and passion give us the ability to rise to the challenge, and the strength to succeed.
From the Vineyard
Slent has a wide variety of soils, micro-climates and altitudes above sea level, which are a great blessing to a wine farmer. It is a perfect location for Chenin Blanc and Shiraz, but on this farm, many crops can be grown, given the right choice of site. After much research into both cultivation and marketing, we decided to focus on what are uniquely South African cultivars – Pinotage and Chenin Blanc. We are now planting new vineyards of these varietals, some of them bush vines, which will produce our icon wines in the future. Being Italians, with a family wine background and connections with Italian viniculture, we co-operated with a Wellington nurseryman to introduce the first Vermentino into South Africa. This white grape from Sardinia will be a unique addition to our range, and, we hope, be very popular with our customers.
9 hectares of olive trees were planted in 2007. Mission, Frantoio, Leccino and Coratino were the varieties we chose – a good mixture of South African and Italian cultivars. Our first harvest will be in 2012. We are very excited about this new addition to the Ayama range. South Africans are learning more about the health advantages of using pure olive oil in their cuisine. As proudly Italian, we can say that this has been part of our healthy way of life for many years. This will add a new experience for our own farm community – Attilio encourages our staff to grow their own vegetable gardens, and stresses the benefits of using healthy self-grown products.
We plan to have our own frantoio (oil mill) and invite locals and visitors to pick their own olives and go home with their “own” oil after a day spent on the farm with their families. It will be a great experience for parents and kids.
Slent has a variety of different plum cultivars. We are maintaining this diversity, replanting 3.5 ha of an old orchard of Sungold plums. South Africa has a large market in Europe for high quality fruit, including grapes, apples, plums, peaches, pears, and apricots. Slent plums and pears are packed and exported to the UK and the EU annually. A wide range of agricultural products provides full-time employment for our staff.
The Pebbles Project
South Africa’s past history has left a community of disadvantaged people in the rural area. As neighbours and employers, we are determined to improve the lives and standard of living of our employees and their children. We have enlarged and upgraded our staff housing, and encourage all the kids on the farm to invest in their own future by getting the maximum amount of value out of their education. Slent Farms are involved in the first after-school project in the Voor Paardeberg area, a partnership between ourselves, our neighbours Pebbles Project Foundation. This project will be up and running in 2014.
The Pebbles Project lays the groundwork for providing education from pre-primary level to after-school support and feeding for pupils coming home from school while their parents are still at work in the fields. The crèche will look after the pre-school kids, giving their mothers peace of mind while they are at work, knowing that their little ones are being cared for and given the basic educational building blocks of learning. This pre-school training will give the children a huge advantage when they start formal schooling. This will provide a new generation of South Africans with a real opportunity – no more dropping out of school , but encouraging them to complete their schooling, and giving them useful tools to find employment when they leave school.
We are sponsoring this project out of a percentage of our income from wine sales around the world. If you would like to sponsor a child directly, all information is available on the Pebbles website.