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OUR STORY

A series of great migrations of Nguni-speaking people brought this uniquely identifiable species into our country over 2 000 years ago, and they are synonymous with wealth and status. It’s this venerable tradition, and the story of one particular Nguni cow called Survivor, that brought about Survivor Wines.

Being transported from one farm to the next a Nguni cow decided she had travelled far enough and jumped. Farm owner Danie Rust found her, without any serious injuries, in his Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard and promptly named her Survivor.

Like her, our wines start with a leap in the vineyard and in true Nguni spirit our grapes are now sourced not only from the Swartland, but also the Elgin Valley, Stellenbosch, Darling, Tradouw and Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, to compose the unique complexity and diversity of the red and white wines in the Survivor Range. Our winemakers intensely debated which regions possessed the perfect balance of rainfall, clay, shale and granite content, so that opening a bottle of Survivor allows you to experience the essence of these terroirs. Survivor Wines are as distinctly South African as the Nguni cow that inspired them.

One fine day, as a truck laden with cattle rattled past our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard, one of the passengers decided: The Cow Stops Here. She jumped. Not only did she survive, but she has thrived, and even produced several offspring. Because she embodies the free spirit of the Swartland, these wines pay tribute to our noble Nguni cow, Survivor.

THE NGUNI

The Nguni cattle breed is well known in Southern Africa and easily distinguished from other breeds by its distinctively pigmented hide and variety of coat colours. Also characteristic of the Nguni are their adaptability, fertility, productivity, good temperament, tolerance to parasites and disease, meat quality and hide quality.

Their name derives from the local tribes who historically farmed them, collectively known as the Nguni people. To the Nguni people cattle were more than just a source of food and milk, they also reflected a person’s wealth and are still used to pay wedding dowries.

What is the history of the remarkable Nguni? It was originally believed that the Nguni cattle arrived in Southern Africa with the Nguni-speaking people. However, more recent research indicates that the cattle were probably introduced much earlier by the Khoisan-speaking people. Exposure to severe climatic conditions and disease ensured that only the strongest survived, passing on their genes to what has become a robust and enduring breed.

Regarded as a status symbol by the Zulu tribes of old, the Nguni played an important cultural and economic role in their lives. The number of cattle owned determined the owner’s importance to a large degree, and the cattle were and still are used as a gift from a groom’s family to that of his bride (known as ‘lobola’). The Nguni has also left a rich legacy of metaphor in the Zulu language; thus it is said, Inkunzi ayahlaba ngokumisa which loosely translated means ‘one should not judge a bull by his horns’.

But it wasn’t only harsh climatic conditions and disease that the courageous Nguni had to overcome. In the late 1800s, in an attempt to establish ‘purer’ European blood into South African cattle, it became illegal to breed a cow with an Nguni bull. The breed became all but extinct until a government research committee was established in the 1940s.This led to the formation of government research herds and the Nguni Cattle Breeders’ Association. At last, in 1994 the Nguni was recognised as a breed.

THE NGUNI

The Nguni cattle breed is well known in Southern Africa and easily distinguished from other breeds by its distinctively pigmented hide and variety of coat colours. Also characteristic of the Nguni are their adaptability, fertility, productivity, good temperament, tolerance to parasites and disease, meat quality and hide quality.

Their name derives from the local tribes who historically farmed them, collectively known as the Nguni people. To the Nguni people cattle were more than just a source of food and milk, they also reflected a person’s wealth and are still used to pay wedding dowries.

What is the history of the remarkable Nguni? It was originally believed that the Nguni cattle arrived in Southern Africa with the Nguni-speaking people. However, more recent research indicates that the cattle were probably introduced much earlier by the Khoisan-speaking people. Exposure to severe climatic conditions and disease ensured that only the strongest survived, passing on their genes to what has become a robust and enduring breed.

Regarded as a status symbol by the Zulu tribes of old, the Nguni played an important cultural and economic role in their lives. The number of cattle owned determined the owner’s importance to a large degree, and the cattle were and still are used as a gift from a groom’s family to that of his bride (known as ‘lobola’). The Nguni has also left a rich legacy of metaphor in the Zulu language; thus it is said, Inkunzi ayahlaba ngokumisa which loosely translated means ‘one should not judge a bull by his horns’.

But it wasn’t only harsh climatic conditions and disease that the courageous Nguni had to overcome. In the late 1800s, in an attempt to establish ‘purer’ European blood into South African cattle, it became illegal to breed a cow with an Nguni bull. The breed became all but extinct until a government research committee was established in the 1940s.This led to the formation of government research herds and the Nguni Cattle Breeders’ Association. At last, in 1994 the Nguni was recognised as a breed.

 

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