Experience 4.0 Walker Bay & Bot River Wine 4.0


Monday 14 May 2018

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

I have long wanted to visit the vineyards in the Bot River Ward having tasted the excellent wines either side in the Elgin and Hemel-en-Aarde Valleys. Luddite was my first port of call and what a treat it was. Bot River village was easy to find having driven East from Cape Town early in the morning along the N2 highway, turning off just pass the turnoff for Kleinmond and Hermanus. A left turn through the village and a right turn took me onto a well graded gravel road. One and a half kilometres later I reached Luddite due to the good humour of my trusty satnav, for there was not a sign in sight for the winery from the village of Bot River.


Sharon told me on my arrival at the Tasting Room – with its magnificent views down the slopes of the Houw Hoek mountains and towards the village and beyond – that local bylaws forbade signs from the village. That rather surprised since I had passed those for Beaumont Family Wines, my next port of call, en route to Luddite. It mattered not now as I relaxed in the spacious tasting room, complete with floor made from old barrels, which sat above the cellar below.


Luddite, as I was to learn, is a blend of traditional and modern. Just 4 wines are produced, 2 whites and 2 reds, from the 6 hectares under vine on the 17 hectare property. The grapes grown include Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvèdre and (in the vineyard below the Tasting Room) Shiraz. A further 2 hectares of Chenin Blanc, Grenache and Shiraz have been planted.



Husband and wife Niels and Penny Verburg make the perfect winemaker and viticulturalist team. They met at a friend’s 21st birthday party in 1985 before attending Elsenburg Agricultural College (he passed, she failed!). Romance blossomed. Four years later they moved overseas as there was no vineyard available for them. The family returned from Europe to South Africa in 1995, Niels having work as a ‘flying winemaker’ in France, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and Greece. The farm was bought as the family moved up the hill from Beaumont where Niels worked for 8 years.


The name Luddite is believed to have come from Ned Ludd an apprentice worker who smashed 2 stocking frames in 1779. The Luddites were a radical group of textile workers and weavers who in the early 19th century destroyed their weaving machinery as a form of protest. They feared that the machines would replace them and that their hard-earned weaving skills would go to waste. They were perhaps right but the 1811-16 rebellion ended when the mill owners enlisted the help of the British Army. Today, the term relates to opposition to industrialisation, automation, computerisation and new technology in general.


The Luddite website proclaims that ‘technology and mechanisation will never be a substitute for passion’. That as may be but I suggest that the use of technology, for example to refine micro-irrigation or to analyze complex grape skin phenolics as an aid to harvest timing, or of automation for bottling and labelling does much to create the time and space for passion. In keeping with this trend, the white and red blends are called Saboteur. A saboteur is a person who intentionally destroys property to hinder his enemy. The word originates from the French word ‘sabot’ which was a wooden shoe that the millworkers would throw into their machinery to make it break down.



The white Saboteur, in distinctive bold lettered label an unusual crown cork stopper used since the maiden vintage in 2015, was a Chenin Blanc-led blend containing Viognier and, equally unusually, Blanc Fumé. Blanc Fumé originally was Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly-Fumé in the Loire Valley, France that had a characteristic smokey or ‘gunflint’ perfume. Today, it usually refers to a Sauvignon Blanc that has been barrel-fermented or lightly oaked. I didn’t detect any gunflint or smokey aromas on the nose but instead a beautiful aromatic bouquet of sweet lemon, gooseberry, melon and white peach. The wine was clean on the palate with just a hint of creaminess. I bought a bottle.


The single variety Chenin Blanc was sold out and not for tasting and so I sampled next the Shiraz-dominated red Saboteur. It comes with either crown top or regular cork closure. I would have liked to have tried a comparison but had to choose between. The full-bodied wine showed a complexity beyond a single variety on the nose – notes of slightly sweet spicy red fruits, blackcurrant and bramble – with a good texture of tannins for their age.



I finished the mini-tasting with the flagship Shiraz with hand-numbered label. The full bodied ruby people wine was superb and, but for the price as heady as the 15% alcohol content, I would have easily bought a bottle. Bold and fruity with great complexity and intensity of dark berry, blackberry, bramble and blackcurrant aromas, the wine was well balanced on the palate with rounded, integrated tannins and a firm finish. Sharon told me that Niels sits on his stoep alone with a bottle. If he can drink an entire bottle, the wine is ready for release but not until it has aged for 2 years in 20% new French oak and matured in the bottle for a further 2 years.



Before leaving I took a brief look at the cellar beneath the Tasting Room. Luddite Wines made for an interesting and highly enjoyable start to my day in Bot River. Technology or not, with or without automation, the wines were all well made. I could easily have bought every bottle – and duplicates of some with crown top and cork to compare at home after.

Wines tasted (bought *):


2017 Saboteur (77% Chenin Blanc, 14% Viognier, 9% Blanc Fumé) – R175*


2013 Shiraz – R545 FAVOURITE WINE
2015 Saboteur Red Blend (77% Shiraz, 11% Mourvèdre, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon) – R255


You Might Also Like

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

It’s High Time Again

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

Speed Tasting with Sommelier ‘Royalty’ at my First SASA Meeting

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?


Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Peter Has a Whale of a Time in Hermanus

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Woody Wildekrans

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

No Black Marks at Raka

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Around the (Old) World in 18 Hours – starting with the European Cuvée!

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Anysbos a Wine Estate to Look Out For

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Late at Lateganskop

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Beyond Expectation

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Mutual Attraction

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Red Chair in the Morning

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Relaxing Rosendal

The Vineyard Hotel a Classic Vehicle to Showcase L’Ormarins Wines

Hazendal Fit for a Tsar, a Hare and a God of Wine

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

More Still at Tanagra

More than Just a Destination

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Waterf-ord More Ord-inary Than Extra-ord-inary

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!


Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Peter Puts into Hermanus

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Being Creative at Flagstone

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Of Female Rugby Players and Ballet Dancers! Let’s Continuously Study Very Seriously: Wines of the Loire and Northern Rhône

Iconic Steenberg

On the Left, but then on the Right …

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Old Oaks at La Bourgogne

Diploma Done and Dusted – But for the Final Result – I Passed!

Masses of Fun and a little Chaos at the Ambeloui Harvest Festival

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Wines Merely to Lust After

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

Boutique de Brendel

Colmant Sparkled

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Great Value in the Swartland

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Never too Early in the Morning for Wine Tasting!

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Simple Spier

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Wines to Love on Love Street

Individual Quality at Jordan

Altitudes with Wine!

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday


Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

More-ish Wines at Môreson

High 5’s All Round for Pride without Arrogance

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Au Revoir France!

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

Trading Wines in the City Bowl


  1. High 5’s All Round for Pride without Arrogance – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] visited the vineyard. I was thrilled to be able to do so today, and just a 5 minute drive from Luddite where I started my first ever foray to taste the wines from Bot […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *