Meet Craig Hawkins, described as the ‘Natural Wine King of South Africa’ - not a title he has endorsed, but one that reflects his influence on the natural wine scene here. Craig and his wife Carla set up the Swartland wine brand Testalonga in 2008 with a commitment to making wines with “grapes and nothing else”. Craig’s philosophy is to embrace a single grape variety on a single soil type, with a clear emphasis on Mediterranean varieties. All the vineyards are organic and in the winemaking there’s no added yeast, acid, or tannin, and no fining or filtration.
Craig has always steered away from the mainstream approach to winemaking and was even considered ‘out there’ for the Swartland. From the very beginning he has had a clear vision of the wines he wanted to make and the approach to them. He and Carla now sell their wines to 29 countries with the UK and Japan being the largest individual markets; within South Africa his work has inspired a similar approach in many of his peers. Craig’s passion for natural wines is infectious and he is one of the world’s most influential winemakers in shaping the category worldwide.