Walker Bay


Old World Style with New Age Attitude.

Adding a South African accent to the natural wine movement is Craig Sheard, better known to his friends and followers as 'Elemental Bob.'

Prior to responding to the moniker 'Elemental Bob', Craig, was lovingly dubbed ‘farmer bob’ by his brother while he was studying agriculture at Elsenberg College in 2004. When he released his first wine, he named it ‘Elemental’ referring to the elements in the wine as well as his clothing brand of choice for winemaking, coincidentally named ‘Element’. It didn’t take long for Sheard to determine that the name ‘Elemental Bob’ was more fitting for his new age wines. 

After tinkering away with his own project for a decade while holding down a day job with other wineries, namely Spookfontein, 2015 was the first vintage where quantities had been big enough – 17 barrels of white and 10 of red – to justify exploring export markets.

This expansion has been aided by the steady development of a more receptive audience for this type of minimal intervention winemaking. “Ten years ago people didn’t really understand what I was doing,” recalls Sheard. “But then they wanted to understand where their food came from and now it’s the same for wine.”

With names such as “My Cosmic Hand" White – a Verdelho/Chenin/Viognier/Semillon blend from several cooler sites in the Western Cape – it should come as no surprise that these wines are a philosophical world away from the big brands.

His winemaking philosophy is pure and simple: he strives to make thoughtful and delicious wines, filled with “soul”. Sheard accomplishes this by sourcing small parcels of grapes from a variety of unique vineyards in the Western Cape. He focuses his energy on small batches of “old world style” wines with layers of personality and depth. His grapes are hand picked and then basket pressed. The final product is unfined and unfiltered. 

“I want my wines to show a bit of soul,” muses the softly spoken Sheard, who is not averse to trying his hand at creating Madeira-style wines using an incubator or drying grapes on his roof. “I don’t want clinical wines, but I don’t want faulty wines either.”

With only small quantities produced and variable availability of certain vineyards, don’t expect to be able to track down the same wine every vintage. Looking ahead, Sheard outlines plans for a slightly different approach, saying: “Eventually when I find the right place I want to make single vineyard wines – but a little left-field.”

Craig's approach to wine is quite succinct: "My wines are pure, fresh, focused with depth and layered personality; drinkable, food friendly and also thought provoking."

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