We asked moonlighting winemaker Konrad Raubenheimer to tell us a bit more about himself and Stormborn Wines’ new label, Die Stilte…
Can you tell us a little about your involvement in the winemaking process? How did it come about?
I have a day job sitting behind computers, so to me just the fact that there is wine in a bottle seems like a minor miracle. I rent some cellar space just outside Riebeek Kasteel in the Swartland, where I get to store my barrels and use their toys. I take off from work during harvest, and the winemaking part of the process is then largely dictated by my schedule (working on weekends isn’t so bad when you have to sample wine all day!).
The motivation was that there are hundreds of lovely vineyards in South Africa being harvested for generic mass-produced wine that I find dull. Even the style of wine I like to drink (lighter reds with ethereal characteristics rather than bold, thick fruity soups) is hard to find or simply very expensive. Smaller production of select parcels can still make delicious wines of character at competitive prices. So I started trying to make interesting wines that reflect their place, that I might like to drink.
What, to you, are the best qualities about Die Stilte?
Tannins lend structure to a wine, particularly red wines. They give it length and balance out the acidity. Grenache typically lacks strong tannins, so people are prone to use oak to get them, or treat the grapes with quite a heavy hand and process to get as much out of them as possible. I like the very fine tannins that Grenache naturally has, and by treating the wine very gently, lovely and soft grainy tannins came through. They give a slight “dusty” feel to the taste. I love this as the place the grapes come from is a dry, dusty place, so the wine physically reminds me of the vineyard in which it originated.
How did you go about conceptualising the label design?
Die Stilte falls under the larger wine brand called Stormborn (the vines and wines being from the Cape of Storms). So the overriding theme for our packaging will always have some “storm” reference. The brand logo was drawn by our friend (@andeldebeerable on Instagram), and the label is partly a variation of something that that my wife Danielle did for us.
Furthermore, I belong to a group of vignerons called the Swartland Independents. We have banded together mostly for wine quality beliefs, but also have a very authentic, ‘grass-roots-revolution’, ‘we-are-farmers’ aesthetic. The label also had to fit this theme. But the wine itself is not big or blustering. It is light and a bit shy. So in the context of a storm, it was more like the the silence before the storm – ‘die stilte’ voor die storm.
The white space on the label is symbolic both of this silence, but also of the place that the vines grow. It is a sparse, empty landscape. And a silent one. A lot of people really didn’t like the font initially, but many of those have found that it grows on them. Somehow, it just works.