Among the many factors involved in creating the best safari experience in Africa is the logistical challenge of sourcing and stocking the extensive wine cellars at each lodge and camp. In this behind-the-scenes story, we share the fascinating details of what it takes to put together a top-end wine list in such remote locations.
As you will have read previously, Singita Premier Wine is the department dedicated to sourcing and supplying wines for all the Singita properties. The wine list at each lodge offers an average of 180 different bottles, all of which need to be painstakingly selected, purchased, matured and distributed throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. François Rautenbach is the talented man responsible for this process and has been involved with Singita Premier Wine for over a decade.
To assist in purchasing the best wines, the lodges document consumption patterns of guests, record every wine tasting ever hosted and every wine opened. François also tracks international wine trends and, of course, trusts his own palate and taste when it comes to sourcing new wines.
Recognised as one of South Africa’s most influential buyers of wine, Singita has an extensive selection of premium wines, including some of the country’s most sought-after private reserves and limited-release wines. Wines are matured under carefully managed conditions, which is why the lodges can offer the majority of their red wines at five years or older.
Sourcing wines is an on-going job, and François and his team work directly with the producers, either making personal visits to the farms or tasting samples sent to them. The Nederburg Auction is attended annually with specific emphasis on purchasing rare sweet wines not available elsewhere. At the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, unique wines with proven rarity and provenance are purchased, often with specific guests in mind.
Singita Ebony Lodge and Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand reserve were the first lodges to house an extensive wine cellar and boutique, and the wine culture established there remains the benchmark for Singita lodges throughout Africa.
Singita Sabi Sand has a large walk-in fridge which acts as the storage and distribution hub for the lodges in the Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park and Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Complementing this is a 60-ton, exclusive-use maturation facility located at Delvera estate in Stellenbosch. Three tons of wine is transported monthly by means of temperature-controlled containers (known as reefers) from Stellenbosch to the refrigerated hub at Singita Sabi Sand. In 2008, a similar bulk fridge was built at Singita Grumeti to function as the East-African hub.
In order to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, a bulk monthly delivery schedule is in place to move the maximum amount of wine at a time. A 20-foot reefer is loaded with 12 600 bottles of wine in Stellenbosch before departing via Cape Town, Durban and on to Dar es Salaam, where the container is cleared through customs. Once cleared the bottles are packed into two refrigerated trucks and driven to Singita Grumeti – a journey of four to five days – where it is unloaded directly into the walk-in fridge. From there, bottles are progressively distributed to each lodge or camp depending on demand.
For more information or to order wine through Singita Premier Wine Direct (available to current, past and future Singita guests) please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more about Singita’s wines on the blog.