Friends are so inspirational. They send you thoughtful messages just when you need them most. A great example is our friend Baptiste Quinard from Burgundy. For the longest time we’ve been discussing the development of our Tasting Room space. Then, when we hit an all-time low with the pandemic at the beginning of January this year, we received a most precious gift from Baptiste in the form of unique and innovative ideas for an environmentally positive space.
I’m delighted to say that Baptiste’s magnificent plans are now a work in progress. Here is an update so far:
Our goal is to create an exchange of energy and nature in the Tasting Room. This will be achieved by showcasing our indigenous flora set against a terroir wall built from the remarkable 255-million to 550-million-year-old stones found in our vineyards. And so we’ve started working with a local team of considerable talent and flair. These include our longtime friends Dieter Odendaal and André Lambrechts of The Flower Boyz Studio, local builder Johan Theron, Gerald and the Stonemasons from Caledon and Cliff Janke aka ‘The Fixer’, our gifted handyman and shopfitter.
Welcome to the Creation Biome at the entrance to the Tasting Room where right now you’re greeted by seasonal fynbos such as the exquisite King and Pink Ice Proteas. Kokedamas hang like raindrops from the ceiling with – to me the crowning glory – two impressive Staghorn Fern ‘chandeliers’ as the centrepiece. A magnificent array of plants overhanging the concrete beams on either side forms a floral guard of honour. These include, of course, South Africa’s wonder plant, the Spekboom. Apart from having edible leaves, its main attraction lies in the fact that the Spekboom removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting like a sponge, improving the quality of the air we breathe.
A microbiome is a community of micro-organisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment, especially the collection of micro-organisms living in or on the human body. Buildings, like the human body, house trillions of diverse micro-organisms, interacting with each other and with us. Recent advances in microbial genomics offer the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the built environment (‘microbiome’), the totality of microbial cells, their genetic elements and their indoor interactions. In an attempt to keep everything clean, we frantically sterilize our surroundings. This process of killing harmful bacteria inadvertently also kills off bacteria critical for human health—or even worse, inadvertently promotes the survival and evolution of more dangerous bugs.
So, while we’re frantically stripping off the bacteria that would naturally be in our buildings, we’re unintentionally creating space for bacteria and maybe even viruses that are harder to remove. In the Western world, humans spend 93% of their time indoors. It has however been proven that when we are outdoors in nature or in buildings with healthy biomes, we are less likely to suffer from chronic health problems. In this respect, Luke Leung, whose engineering projects include Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – suggests deploying ventilation systems that pump offices full of microbially diverse outdoor air.
In addition to delivering fresh oxygen and eliminating the brain-numbing buildup of carbon dioxide, good airflow and filtration reduce exposure to a long list of primarily unregulated and unmonitored chemicals found indoors. Examples are carcinogens and endocrine disrupters residing in carpets, computers, free-floating dust, office chairs, paint and more.
A solution as simple as opening the window can result in far more microbial diversity throughout the room, including species found on plants and leaves. At Creation, we focus on making our buildings, especially our Tasting Room, healthier at a microbial level. I’m confident that our glorious new indoor garden is already making a marked difference, not only aesthetically but with a variety of other benefits such as improved air quality, fresh forest floor aromas, uplifting the ambience and increasing productivity and well-being – to mention a few.
Inviting nature in has also made a distinct change to the acoustics of our beautiful Tasting Room. It is a known fact that hard surfaces reflect sound waves while soft surfaces, as created by the plants in our biome, absorb them. Our innovative Creation Sensation Experience has taught us the value of resonance and by reducing the background noises we’ve created a gentle, relaxing mood for our guests to enjoy.