Cape Jaffa Wines is one of the Mount Benson wine region’s frontier brands, producing a range of whites and reds that are all grown locally within the Limestone Coast.
The Limestone Coast Collaborative will be great for the region because it provides the first step in creating a united story about the beautiful place we all call home. – Anna Hooper, chief winemaker, Cape Jaffa Wines
Single vineyard biodynamic wines are Cape Jaffa’s flagship products, with each highly anticipated vintage crafted to showcase individual terroirs around the region.
“We grow fruit in our own biodynamic vineyards and partner with growers who share our commitment to tread lightly in order to minimise environmental impact,” explains Cape Jaffa’s multi-award winning winemaker Anna Hooper.
The winery also produces a range of blended wines that explore the possibilities of winemaking without the rulebook.
“We like to think our approach is a bit wild and adventurous, but still very pristine and fresh (just like our surrounds!),” Anna says.
Anna moved to the Limestone Coast in 2001 to work with a biodynamic French producer Michel Chapoutier until she met her now husband, Des Hooper, and jumped ship for Cape Jaffa Wines a couple of years later. The Hoopers have enthusiastically embraced the principals of biodynamic winegrowing since Cape Jaffa’s early days, using plant-based preparations to reduce reliance on manufactured inputs, and enlisting the help of chickens, ducks, sheep and geese to keep vineyard pests at bay.
“Some of what we do in the vineyard seems unusual to some, but it’s the way we like to do it,” Anna says. “It’s also nice for our workmates and it seems to be more gentle on our surrounds.”
How has the Limestone Coast region enabled you to create a successful brand or business?
I have always recognised that we are very lucky to have such great and consistent quality of wine in this region. I chose to do my first ever wine industry work just ‘down the road a bit’ in Coonawarra, as I always thought that the wines from this slightly cooler part of the State were our greatest ones. Looking back, I feel quite privileged that I was offered my first full-time job back in an area that I always aspired to end up in.
Our farm is a place that Des and his Dad discovered some time ago, unique from where they had come from (Coonawarra), but one that had some similarities that they suspected would make it very suitable for viticulture – that desirable red soil over a limestone base, and a climate characterised by sunny growing season days, freshened by sea breezes that cool the land and allow for excellent quality and intensity. There is a small group of us making great wines out of the region now, and while we sell our own Cape Jaffa Wines to number of export markets and to most states in Australia, our most important markets are the local restaurants and retailers who are very supportive of what we do.
Limestone Coast is a great region that’s all about community. People here work together and support each other and there is a real feel that we like to see our neighbours do well. Speaking from our own little area’s perspective, we see each other’s successes as adding to our strengths rather than as providing unwanted competition. Our place is isolated to a certain degree, but I think that can work in your favour as well. So many intrepid travellers love coming to visit our area as it’s so far removed from urban life, yet there are still the awesome restaurants, local food, wine and shops to be discovered.
I also enjoy living here. I love that you can surf in the morning before work and go out and catch a crayfish in the evening to match with fresh, home-grown produce. I think feeling free and inspired is a really important part of any creative career, such as making wine, so living amongst beautiful surrounds is important to me.
Where would you like to see the Limestone Coast region in the next 5 years in terms of brand recognition for the region, marketing of products and collaboration of industries?
As far as wine is concerned, I would love to see the region better recognised for the quality it produces. I still feel that we are a bit of a dark horse amongst the Australian wine scene, with many of our emerging regions like Wrattonbully and Mt Benson waiting to be discovered.
I hope to see more collaboration between the wine regions of the Limestone Coast, and I would love to see the wine industry gain leverage from the huge tourism and value-added food industries that are emerging. I think that Limestone Coast should eventually be the region that we lead with when we are talking about our brands, with the 6 GIs beneath it recognised by the more involved wine enthusiasts for each of their unique qualities. A bit like Bordeaux and the famous appellations that sit beneath it of Medoc, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint Emillion and Sauternes, to name a few.
I hope that the Limestone Coast retains its pristine, remote and ‘off the beaten track feel’. And I hope that we conserve – and work to enhance – our natural assets such as wetlands, coastal parks and the beautiful old paddock gums. With this in mind, I hope that sustainable farming and care for our environment will be an important part of the story that we take to our markets and that we will ensure that our environmental credentials are well understood and transparently measured and marketed. This applies both from a sustainable farming perspective and from a conservation perspective. There are some great examples of conservation and farming/business/wine projects across the world being used to promote regions that we might aspire to do ourselves.
What are some of the successes that you have achieved?
- Converting our property to be certified biodynamic
- Creating a brand and portfolio of wines that we are proud to take to our customers
- Winning the 2014 Limestone Coast Wine Show Best Shiraz Trophy for our 2012 Epic Drop.
- Best Limestone Coast Exhibitor Melbourne International Wine Show 2014
- SA Rural Women’s Award winner
- Speaking invitation at the International Conference for Sustainable Viticulture and Winery waste in South Africa
- Soil Stewardship Scholarship, Limestone Coast
- Advantage SA Sustainability Award and Hall of Fame
- South Australian Wine Industry Association Environmental Excellence Award
- Women in Business and Regional Development ‘Best Business’
- Rewarding volunteer projects in significant conservation spots around our area
Regional Hero: Anna Hooper, Cape Jaffa Wines
459 Limestone Coast Road, Mount Benson SA 5275
Telephone (08) 8768 5053