David & Nadia: A slow and steady Swartland love story for the ages

David and Nadia Sadie are the couple behind the much-loved David & Nadia brand name – a Swartland label that is renowned for producing exceptional single varietal vintages and the sought-after Aristargos and Elpidios blends that represent the soils, vineyards and people of the region. Theirs is a slow and steady love story of the land that spilled over into a real-life romance and continues to inspire their craft today. 

A fairy tale with a slow start

The pair met during their studies at Stellenbosch University, and ultimately went on to get married and start their own label, but their fairy tale had somewhat of a slower start than most.  

“The funny thing is that we didn’t really know each other while we were in the thick of our viticulture studies,” says Nadia. “Although we were in the same year, David was a little preoccupied with rugby at the time. We only really started hanging out during the final exams of our fourth year. This is when everyone realised that our group would be scattering into the world pretty soon, and there was some or other social gathering almost every night of the week, so that is when we actually got to talking.” 

“Then, when we had only just gotten our act together David jetted off to New Zealand for a harvest, returned for a while and left for France again. So, to start with it was a long-distance romance while I continued my post-grad in Soil Science at Stellenbosch. When he returned at the end of that year, we both worked in Stellenbosch for a while, before David made a move to Tulbagh. We got married in 2009 and in 2010 we made our first wine while we were still working for our previous employers.” 

The perfect team

David and Nadia believe that their success as a husband-and-wife winemaking team is based on their complementary skill sets, as well as their ability to keep their personal and professional lives separate. 

“Because we studied together, there is a solid understanding of our approach to winemaking,” says David. “Nadia’s main focus is the health and wellbeing of our soils; I take over in the vineyard and on the operational end. So, from an in-house point of view, it is a considered team effort all the way from the feeding of the soil to the eventual marketing of the wine. This works very well for us.” 

“However, you have to be able to separate your work life and your personal life completely,” says Nadia. “You can’t get yourself in a situation where you need information to do something work-related and you’re in the midst of about of stilstuipe and unwilling to give in and ask your spouse what you need to know to get the job done. You have to be able to set these things aside. You have to make the mind shift and take the conscious decision not to let these two realities blur into one another in situations where it can impact your livelihood negatively.”

“On the other hand, sometimes it can be a lot of fun! Every now and again there is the opportunity to go to marketing events or spend time somewhere lovely with your husband. You’re not doing it on your own or with a random colleague, you get to do it with someone you love, which means you can enjoy it on two levels.” 

Tackling the challenges of the Swartland

Although David and Nadia don’t personally own any land, they farm about 60% of the vineyards they work with themselves. They rent Paardebosch, the farm on which their winery is situated, and that contributes about half of the grapes that go into their vintages. Then there are two more tracts of land in the Riebeek area what they farm themselves as well. For the rest, they’ve developed close relationships with farmers who understand their approach to winemaking and try to spend as much time with them in the vineyards as possible. 

“Our brand focusses on old vines quite a bit. But those old vineyards also used to be young vines, so that is where we start,” explains Nadia. “If we rely solely on the old vineyards, we’d run into trouble at some point. We believe in planting grapes that have proven to thrive in our region, so this is why we most recently chose to plant Grenache, Marsanne and Roussanne – all cultivars that are very few and far between in the Swartland, and with which we want to work and experiment more extensively.”

“The dry nature of the Swartland will always be a challenge when it comes to the establishment of new vines,” says David. “Young vines need sufficient water to grow properly. However, this is the type of challenge that forces you to adapt and venture outside of your comfort zone to experiment with dryland cultivation, etc. In the end, you want to plant something sustainable that will be able to flourish under the prevailing conditions of a given region.”

“However, even for producers like us, who approach the entire process pretty much scientifically, it can be difficult to get exactly what you need when you are bound to the grafted vines the vine nurseries have available at a particular time,” explains Nadia. “Everything is not always available in exactly the way you would have wanted it according to your neat and tidy technical plan. In cases like these, you have to weigh your options carefully – are you going to wait another year to see if you can get your ideal graft the next year, or will you plant what is available now to get the ball rolling.”

“The major advantage of being in the Swartland at the moment is that there is a healthy number of new-generation producers in the area – many of whom own land that they can farm the way they want, and others (like us) who rent land,” says David. “It is an absolute privilege to live, and farm and make in the area where you’re from. As a group, we have a true fascination with the Swartland. Nadia and I specifically, would not want to be anywhere else but here. This is where we will stay forever and ever.”

How to buy and taste David & Nadia wines

David & Nadia offer seasonal tastings of their wines that are conducted on an invite-only basis. If you would like to receive an invitation to these gatherings, sign up for their newsletter by emailing info@davidnadia.com. Alternatively, you can get in touch to book pre-scheduled tastings. 

Open for tastings at Bill & Co., Swartland Street Market: Tue-Fri by appointment only. 

Open for sales at Bill & Co., Swartland Street Market: Tue-Sat 10h – 17h and Sun 10h – 13h and The Wine Kollective in Riebeek Kasteel.

Cell: 0723754336/ 0827583598

QUICK LINKS >> Website: www.davidnadia.com| Email: info@davidnadia.com | Telephone Number: +27 72 375 4336

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