Mozart effect? South African vintner plays classical music on vineyards

Everybody knows that wine should have a good nose, but one South African vintner wants the world to believe it also needs a good ear. In a gentle valley near Stellenbosch in the western Cape, the vineyards at DeMorgenzon estate are serenaded by baroque and early classical music day and night, all year round. And once the grapes are harvested, the maturing wine gets the same treatment in the cellar. While there is no scientific proof of music’s effects on wine, the owners of the estate, Wendy Appelbaum and her music-loving husband Hylton, think there is enough evidence of the positive influence of dulcet sound to try to combine their love of both.

We do things in life sometimes because we believe in them and often we find out later that there was a very strong scientific reason why those things worked.

Carl van der Merwe, DeMorgenzon estate general manager

So if wine and song go together in more ways than one, why does it have to be baroque rather than rock? Estate general manager Carl van der Merwe says they only use baroque and classical music because both the styles ‘have mathematical rhythm’ and their sound waves have been proven to have a positive effect on natural life. He says he sees a difference the music makes through the slower and more regulated growth patterns on the vines where it is focused—a trial block of four hectares out of the 55 hectares under vines on the estate.

The Syrah that comes from here is very different to anywhere else on the property, and it’s much more pronounced in terms of flavour, has smoother tannins and tends to have slightly lower alcohol and really is just a much more balanced, much more approachable wine.

Carl van der Merwe