The restoration, conservation and rehabilitation of Spier’s natural heritage saw it becoming one of 38 farms in the Western Cape to carry the WWF-SA Conservation Champion label on its wines.
Despite being the world’s smallest, the 90 0000 km2 Cape Floral Kingdom is its most diverse – home to more than 9 500 different plant species. 70% of these occur nowhere else, making it all the more important that the sensitive ecosystems in which they’re found are protected. Spier has remnants of highly endangered Renosterveld vegetation, Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos and the very rare Ferricrete Fynbos, which all form part of this important floral kingdom.
Wilton Sikhosana, Spier’s nursery manager for almost a decade, grew up in Pongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal. When he was a child, his grandfather – a traditional healer – sent him to collect medicinal plants in the veld. Wilton first began flexing his green fingers when he started growing some of these varieties in old cast iron pots close to home – so he wouldn’t have to walk so far to retrieve them for his grandpa.
Having worked professionally with plants since 2002, one of Wilton’s greatest achievements before joining Spier was to establish a nursery of over 100 000 plants from 73 different endemic plant species on North Island in the Seychelles. The Seychelles was also where he first began working with acclaimed landscape architect Patrick Watson – beginning a collaboration that has continued at Spier, and has included the planting of the Spier River Walk, a showcase of indigenous plants on the banks of the Eerste River.