Exploring natural wine with winemaker Andy Kershaw of Rose & Protea and Denbies

PUBLISHED: 11:34 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 20 September 2017

Johan and Andy putting a Rose and Protea vintage through its paces

Johan and Andy putting a Rose and Protea vintage through its paces

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A key part of the Denbies Wine Estate team, Andy Kershaw is also one fourth of Rose & Protea who produce natural wines from the Fynbos Estate in South Africa. As they look forward to showcasing their latest vintages with a pop-up bar in Dorking, Matthew Williams meets the winemaker to find out more about natural wine

Andy Kershaw works at Denbies Wine Estate as assistant winemakerAndy Kershaw works at Denbies Wine Estate as assistant winemaker

How did Rose & Protea come to life?

Rose & Protea came about when I returned to my winemaking roots in South Africa. I’m based in Dorking for 90% of the year but we decided to start R&P to bring the wines that we make in SA (under the Dragonridge and A & B Kershaw labels) to our home market. Our friends and family wanted our wine, but we only had so much room in our backpacks.

How did your interest in natural wine start?

I started my winemaking career the natural way and moved into the commercial methods later on. Working in a half-million litre winery in New Zealand has made me a better winemaker of batches that are sometimes less than 200 litres in volume.

What are the main differences compared to ‘normal’ winemaking?

Natural is winemaking in its purest sense - beyond organic and biodynamic. Our wines contain nothing more than fermented grapes. My aim is to make wines that are true to the vineyard and the year. And taste like the grapes they are made from.

Your Sonkop White 2016 is known as an ‘orange’ wine. Explain that for people who haven’t tried it…

Orange is a white wine made in the style of a red. A white wine is normally made by extracting the juice of the grapes straight after picking. An orange wine is made by leaving the skins with the juice during fermentation and sometimes longer, as you would when making red. Our Sonkop White 2016 had two weeks of skin contact.

What are your favourite natural wines on the market?

Natural winemaking is on the rise as people are more conscious of what they put into their bodies, so there are constantly lots of new producers to try. But some of my favourites are from JH Meyer in South Africa and I’m fascinated by how the Georgians continue to put new twists on natural winemaking techniques that are thousands of years old.

Finally, tell us what people can expect from your Dorking pop-up bar…

On Saturday September 23, we will have six natural wines available by the glass, bottle and to take away as well as a tasting flight. Three wines from Dragonridge and the two Sonkop from A & B Kershaw (one of which is an orange). We will also have a natural wine that I made in Surrey from grapes grown in Thursley! We’ve got cheese boards supplied by Village Greens Farm Shop in Dorking and Biltong (SA style dried beef) from Big Blue in Ockley. Delicious!

• Rose & Protea are hosting a pop-up natural wine bar at Peppe’s Café, South Street, Dorking RH4 2HD on Saturday September 23, 6pm to 11pm. For more information, visit roseandprotea.com

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