Wine in our own backyard – Leon Ehlers

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An aerial view of the vineyard and cellar under construction.

Town planner, Leon Ehlers, has been living in the City of Roses since 1992, and shortly after moving here he chose Langenhoven Park, as his residential neighbourhood. “I been living here for so long, I truly feel like a citizen of Bloemfontein,” he said.

He added that the community is such a close-knit one, working together to stay safe and ensuring that the environment is well looked after. “It’s continuously growing, it’s a nice, vibrant area and a lot of young people live here. It’s also a very stable area when it comes to property prices. With the many businesses moving to the area, it shows that there is a lot of investment coming to Langenhoven Park. It’s becoming a ‘small little Sandton’, where people don’t have to go to the city centre to do business and run errands anymore,” he said.

Hendrik Blom, Moné Ehlers and Andre Lötter. Pressing of first batch of grapes (2019)

Ehlers is one of three winemakers who live in the same street, situated just behind The Towers Centre. He first started growing 60 pecan nut trees on his plot and later on planted other fruit trees and eventually olive trees. But when he saw that his neighbour, electrical engineer André Lötter’s wine was relatively successful Lötter had started producing a lot earlier than him, he decided to join him in this new hobby.

“It was not an easy process. First we had to prepare the land properly and plant the grapes in such a way that they are far from the ground. They’re planted like this to make sure that the actual fruit does not touch the ground because when we get frost in the winter, the cold actually comes from the ground, it doesn’t come from the top. So my grapes are planted in a different way than they are normally planted in the Western Province.”

Ehler continued, “These are certified grapes from the Western Province. And then it’s quite a process when pruning the grapes in the winter, giving them some fertiliser, looking after them, making sure that you water them regularly. If there is rainfall, you’ve got to make sure there is no rust on the leaves. So it’s quite a process looking after the vineyard right through the year.”

Leon Ehlers with cellar under construction in background.

Harvesting is also a process. Ehler has just recently harvested his white grapes at the end of January and his red grapes have been harvested in the middle of February.

The final product

“We haven’t started selling commercially as we are still in the process of developing the wines at the moment, but once they are ready, we can expect to boast 3000 bottles of wine produced in Langenhoven Park’s own backyard.” – Seithati Semenokane
seithati@centralmediagroup.co.za