Nature knows best at Nativo

How time, terroir and tenacity play a role in producing organic wines in the Swartland.

Helmed by father and daughter duo Billy and Kiki Hughes, Nativo forms part of Hughes Family Wines – an ex-wheatfield turned winery where absolutely every step of the winemaking process is done by hand.

A marine engineer, Billy invented a hydraulic basket press that extracts the juice by squeezing the grapes upwards instead of downwards, thus also harnessing the power of gravity to aid in the task. Having recently completed her master’s degree in wildlife forensic genetics, Kiki works for a climate tech start-up, specialising in renewable energy, so it comes as no surprise that conservation and natural winemaking would be such a priority for her family’s farm. By keeping the addition of SO2 (sulphur dioxide) to a minimum and adding no other chemicals to their wines, Nativo complies with the EU and NOP organic regulations while their cellar is stable in temperature without the need for electricity or ongoing use of fossil fuel.

Passionate about keeping things natural, Nativo’s cellar and tasting room reflect this manifesto, with the former made of retired shipping containers bunkered into the earth and the latter of rammed earth-cast walls that Billy built himself. Sparsely furnished, with a single-bed-turned-couch, to house any Hughes family members and friends in case of the odd sleepover during a busy harvest season, the tasting room is open by appointment only. Not to worry, as Nativo offers both Farm Visit Tastings (year-round) and Harvest Tastings (during February and March) where visitors can book in advance and experience the cellar, wine production and resulting blends over the course of a Saturday morning.

Involved on the farm since early childhood, Kiki began by helping her family with picking and stomping grapes. Kiki didn’t formally study wine, but with her scientific background, she understands the science of winemaking.   She states that winemaking is in her DNA and by using experience as her predominant learning method, she and her father have since progressed into Nativo’s permanent winemakers.

Me and my dad get on well, and we’ve always been best friends so it’s effortless to work with him – for the most part we end up in the same place,” says Kiki of her father Billy.

Besides introducing the odd limited edition on occasion when a particular varietal or alternative blend is tasting particularly lovely in a vintage, such as the flor-driven Flora (Viognier, Chenin Blanc & Grenache Blanc), Nativo consistently produce six wines – Amarillo (skin-macerated Chenin Blanc, Roussanne & Grenache Blanc), Blanco (Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc), The Birds, (Shiraz, Mourvédre, Grenache), The Bees (100% Viognier), a Red Blend (Shiraz, Mourvédre, Grenache, Pinotage, Tempranillo), and a Tempranillo. Nativo has gone through a few different winemakers since its inception in the early 2000s. Still, with Billy and Kiki as winemakers, the family can play with their signature sustainable style of producing wine.

Learning together has brought us closer, hence we decided to go out on our own and craft the wine ourselves in 2023. I think that was a amazing decision because up until then we’d relied on other winemaker’s expertise and vision when we rather wanted to experiment with a vision that better reflects Nativo” explains Kiki of the decision.

And just like the cycle of life, the Nativo wine label’s logo and their naturalised approach to winemaking, the Hughes family has finally succeeded in bringing their organic operation full circle.

If you are interested in finding out more or joining Billy & Kiki for a tasting, send an e-mail to, or purchase their wines online.     Find Nativo on the Old Piketberg Road between Malmesbury and Moorreesburg.   

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