Craven Wines is a winemaking collaboration between husband-and-wife team Mick and Jeanine Craven. Mick is an Aussie currently working as lead winemaker at Mulderbosch during the day; Jeanine is South African, and they met in California dragging hoses in Sonoma for harvest in 2007. After both having taken to the textbooks at their respective universities, they decided to hit the road, see lots of things, work in lots of places and try and learn as much as possible from this massive wine world. After traveling across the world together for four years and learning about wines in Australia, Europe, the States and South America, the couple returned to South Africa in late 2011. They feel Stellenbosch has such an amazing array of sites and terroir, and that it is perfect for what they want to do, which is making site-specific, honest wines.
“We chose South Africa, as we think there is a lot of potential here to make amazing wines. We live in Stellenbosch and our hearts are here in this town, which is why we only make wines from the Stellenbosch region as we want to be within a heartbeat of the vines. We want to make wines which are interesting, both stylistically and by variety, but also wines which have a sense of place and express where they come from. We have isolated particular vineyard sites, for their unique soils and micro-climates, where we work with the growers to ensure that we get the best results from the particular sites. All our wines will come from single vineyards around Stellenbosch,” said Mick Craven. In the vineyard the ‘less is more’ attitude is implemented. They work with their farmers to rely more on cover crops to improve water retention rather than relying on irrigation. Furthermore, smart, year-round farming provides the nitrogen and other nutrients that the vines need, and the by-product is the uselessness of herbicides.
In the cellar, Mick and Jeanine like to keep things as simple as possible as well. They seek ripe flavors but at lower alcohols and with plenty of acidity. To accomplish this the Cravens work very hands-on but without manual manipulation. There is no use of cultured yeasts, enzymes, fining agents, etc. throughout the winemaking process. The white wines are about seeking the ideal texture for the site/vintage/variety, with the lees and aging vessels playing a huge role. The reds are all about stems. The Cinsault highlights the granitic site and fruit purity. The rosé? Well, it’s not a rosé but a true ramato of skin-contact Pinot Gris and is an amalgamation of both red and white winemaking techniques.