What’s your story? A kaleidoscope of perspectives on Adi Badenhorst – the Swartland’s favourite storyteller

Adi Badenhorst. Man, oh man, where to begin. A lot has been written about this truly singular winemaker and his sought-after wines over the years, and it’s all extremely entertaining. Could there be anything more to say, you might wonder? The answer, lads and lasses, is a resounding yes

See, Adi is like a kaleidoscope – every time you encounter him, you discover a new facet of his huge personality and unflinchingly honest character. He’s like a wild, overgrown garden that keeps growing and producing strange and unusual footpaths that amble off into fascinating, unexplored territory. 

As a person, Adi has a deep fascination with the stories that make us human. He is known for starting conversations with new folks by leaning in and asking, ‘what’s your story?’. So, to give you an idea of who Adi is and the important role he plays in his community, we thought we’d turn the question around and bring you some stories shared by his friends, neighbours, and colleagues. 

Kalmoesfontein, AA Badenhorst Family Wines, Paardeberg, South Africa.

Here, without further ado, is an anthology of perspectives on AA Badenhorst himself: 


“Adi is an original. He is not a copy or interpretation of anything else. He has also made an immense contribution to the Swartland and is a great support to the people who know him. He understands the Swartland completely; I think it might be a case of the Swartland having been made for Adi, rather than the other way around. It’s wonderful to have him as my neighbour and colleague. He is also one of the best people ever to take on a road trip, or to sit on the stoep with having a glass of wine or a cup of tea. He is a blessing for sure.”

Eben Sadie, The Sadie Family Wines

“We were at function on Adi’s farm the one day and just before we left, he told us he would meet us at 05:45 the following morning for a breakfast braai in the vineyard. It was close to Grenache day and there were two French winemakers as well, so at 05:45 on a Thursday morning we were grilling eggs and sausage and opening up a bottle of Grenache, watching the sun come up. This is how Adi operates – laid-back and lekker. To him, life is a joy. 

“His end of harvest parties up in the forest are also legendary. When Adi starts dancing, all the kids gather around him to join in. He is everyone’s friend and he has this generous sense of humour that draws people to him.” 

Wim Smit, Hofstraat Cellars

“The first year I made Filia, I was struggling to find space in a cellar to make one tonne of Chenin Blanc into a bubbly. I’d been trying all over the Western Cape. At the time, everyone thought I was slightly mad, and the one cellar that did agree let me know one day before I was meant to clock in with grapes that their equipment was still on a ship. So, as one does, I got in my car and went to give my neighbour an earful of my woes. 

“My neighbour happened to be Adi Badenhorst, who had, in a beautiful twist of fate, just received his basket press. That particular press could not manage more than 300kg of whole bunches at a time, but beggars can’t be choosers. That’s how I found myself in a still partially deconstructed Kalmoesfontein cellar in the seething heat of a Swartland summer at 11:00 in the morning, trying to save my juice with dry ice as I pushed three batches through that tiny hand-operated basket press. 

“Adi was there bringing me coffee and inviting me to sundowners when the day was done. He had opened his cellar to me, and in the end I got it done. Salute, buddy!”

Christa von La Chevallerie, Huis Van Chevallerie
Adi and his long-time childhood friend, Jonothan Ravell.

“Adi is a real character, and he gets away with a lot. For instance, at the 2014 Swartland Revolution, he was the moderator for a session with Jan Boland – a very famous winemaker from Stellenbosch that also happens to be his father-in-law and a very large ex-Springbok rugby player. 

Jan Boland had quite a bit to say and people will hanging on his words. At one stage he was talking about Stellenbosch and jokingly said they had better grapes than the Swartland, which everyone took in good fun. “Adi, however, chimed in with ‘Don’t be a spoil sport, play nice big man’. Naturally, everyone burst out laughing. 

“This, to me, is a prime example of who Adi is. He is very funny, and very passionate about the Swartland. He’s also one of the few people who could say something like that to Jan Boland without getting a klap.”

Jurgen Gouws, Intellego Wines

“At ProWein 2015, Bernard Fonteneau hosted a big party that involved a whole bunch of Brazilian dancers with very little clothing. Adi arrived to the party quite late but immediately got in the spirit of things and gave those South American ladies a run for their money on the dance floor. 

“Another time, in London, I was set up next to him at another trade show. It was amazing to see how people flock to him. Standing there next to him, I was also privy to many different variations of his stories, and it was interesting to see how each new iteration would have a little more embellishment, a new twist or extra titbit. 

“He is a master storyteller, that’s for sure. In the end, it doesn’t even matter if it’s completely true not – because, after all, what is the point of spoiling a good story with the facts …”

Kara van Zyl, Riebeek Valley Wine Co. 


If you’re making your way to the Swartland and you have some lead time, you can get in touch to book a tasting on christine@aabadenhorst.com. Alternatively, you can stop over at Bill & Co. Swartland Street Market in Malmesbury, or The Wine Kollective in Riebeek Kasteel if you want easy access and the input of some local purveyors.  Alternatively, there are online stores that stock it as well that will deliver to your door. This includes Yuppiechef and Cybercellar.  

QUICK LINKS >> Website: www.aabadenhorst.com | Email: christine@aabadenhorst.com| 

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