South African winery Audacia uses indigenous plant in no sulphur wines »

A pioneering winemaking innovation assists those sensitive to sulphur

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Rooibos harvesting

Rooibos harvesting

Audacia Rooibos Merlot
Windermere Rooibos cider
Audacia Rooibos Merlot
Rooibos harvesting


Rooibos is probably more widely known as the base of a healthy tea but South African winery Audacia has pioneered a process using this indigenous plant to create a 'no sulphite or preservative added' range of red and white wines. Whilst not available in Australia, these wines show that innovation can bring relief for those senstive to sulphur.

In mid 2015, Audacia wines in South Africa released white wines made without added sulphites to their existing range of reds made with the same pioneering winemaking process using Rooibos and Honeybush woodchips.

The patent-protected innovation comes from the wine-making team at Audacia – a Stellenbosch based boutique winery that specialises in producing terroir specific signature red wines.  It’s located between Stellenbosch and Somerset West on the R44 Highway in what is known as the wineland’s famed 'Golden Triangle" – a region where some of South Africa’s most acclaimed red wines are produced.

Audacia proprietor Trevor Strydom explains: “The antioxidant-rich indigenous Rooibos and Honeybush wood chips used in the wine making process removes the need to preserve wine by adding sulphur”. Sulphur is a commonly used preservative to which many consumers are allergic. The indigenous wood not only contain antioxidants, but also exhibit low tannin levels, making it ideal for producing ‘natural’ wines and an all round ‘healthier’ option for wine drinkers.

About the wood

The Rooibos and Honeybush wood that is used in the making the ‘no sulphites or preservatives added’ wines is sourced from plants endemic to the Western Cape. They are part of the world-renowned Cape Floral Kingdom – a Unesco World Heritage Site and the world’s smallest, but richest plant biome.

Their wood is unique in that it contains high levels of antioxidants, no caffeine and low tannin levels, making it ideal for use in wine making - as both preservative and means of enhancing the taste of wine in a traditional manner.

Both Rooibos and Honeybush have also been awarded a “geographical indicator” by the European Union. According to South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, this now means that local manufacturers have “exclusive ownership of these particular names” and that the names will only be applicable to products that come from South Africa which are officially approved by his department – ensuring quality control.

The science of low sulphur

Winemaker Van Niekerk, who in conjunction with Audacia proprietor Trevor Strydom began with pioneering the new technology in 2010, explains the science behind the wine’s low sulphur content: “The use of indigenous wood in the wine making process provides wine drinkers with a delicious alternative, free of traditional amounts of allergy-inducing preservatives. The legal limit of sulphites allowed in South African table wines is 150mg/l, while the Audacia wines contains in the region of 3 to 4 mg/l of sulphur (which is naturally produced by yeasts during the fermentation process). We add none ourselves.”

About the wines

The Audacia range of ‘no sulphite or preservatives added’ red wines includes a cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and award-winning merlot. The white wines, made in partnership with winemakers Neil Patterson and Gerda Willers, are a chenin blanc and natural white (mainly sauvignon blanc).

Please note these wines are not available in Australia but David Lowe of Lowe Wines in Mudgee is also having success with no preservative wines
. See links below for more information.


  • South Africa - all (SAF)

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January 14th, 2016
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