Pesach wine making

The Wenertage production team in action: (L to R) Louis Jaffe, Freda Tucker, Phillippa Wener, Kirsten Stilianou and Lisa Stilianou

Victor and Maxine Boyd of Sea Point have been making wine for Pesach for the past 42 years – and this year is no different. 

Victor explains that his family’s wine-making history dates back to the 1950s when his grandfather started producing the nectar of the gods in time for Pesach in his Muizenberg garage. The tradition continued with Victor’s father, Joe, and subsequently passed on to Victor and his wife, Maxine, who also descends from a family well versed in Pesach viticulture.

Today, plastic buckets are used for the fermentation of the grapes but in previous years one had to have a wooden barrel with a tap. “The move to plastic has been fine,” Victor comments “ and the wine turns out perfect!”

Over the years, Victor and Maxine have learned where to source suitable grapes for their wine, which they call Chateau Du Boyd, a suitably elegant name for their quality product! “The best cultivar is called Hermitage,” says Victor, adding that he gets his grapes from a farm in Kuils River. “We need to know the sugar content of the grape so that we can calculate the ratio of grapes to sugar. It’s usually done as 4kg grapes to 1kg sugar. This gives us an alcohol content of between 11 and 14%.”

The grapes are de-stalked but not crushed. Left with the sugar to ferment – or ‘boil’ – for about 10 days, the wine subsequently lies undisturbed for about six weeks prior to bottling, providing a wine that’s perfect for the Pesach seder.

For approximately 1kg of grapes, the wine-maker ends up with a 750ml bottle of wine. The Boyd’s current production involves 40 kg grapes which should yield 35 bottles of wine. 

Another Cape Town family who’ve spent recent weeks making Pesach wine are the Weners of Milnerton. Phillippa Wener and her sister-in-law, Freda Wener Tucker, have produced wine in the Wener family tradition for many decades. The tradition has been passed on to younger generations, too, and Phillippa’s daughter and granddaughter are equally involved in the production process for a wine named Wenertage, also using the Hermitage grape cultivar.

This is a family and a cultural tradition to be cherished – one that future generations of the Boyd and Wener families will hopefully continue!

• Published in the April 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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