South African winemakers are known to be a little on the eccentric side, which we reckon is no bad thing. The Den is a label set up by Painted Wolf wines, which is run by winemaker Jeremy - dedicated conservationist, marathon cyclist, wild dog enthusiast, keen abstract artist, and wine obsessive. All in all, he sounds like the kind of person we’d love to share a bottle with… and luckily, he produces some of the best vino in his region, so it seems likely he’d have a few spares knocking around for us to empty.

Painted Wolf was set up back in 2007 as a small-scale experimental project between Jeremy and his wife, Emma, in between their charitable efforts to protect and champion the South African wild dog. They wanted the chance to get away from the city and feel more connected with the land they loved so dearly, and felt that by trying their hand at winemaking, they’d be able to live the lives they wanted to lead. Naturally, they soon discovered that winemaking isn’t all lazing around in the sun and picking the occasional bunch of grapes, but they took to the hard work like ducks to water, and before long, their minimal intervention methods say plenty of interest coming their way.

Their initial batches were mainly shared between family, friends, and the local community, but within a couple of years, Painted Wolf started exporting to the UK and Europe. Impressively, their characterful wines were picked up by South African Airlines as the bottles of choice for their business class passengers, and plenty of awards and accolades came along at the same time. If you’re looking to get a taste of modern Paarl wine, made with sustainability and ecology in mind - along with a decent dose of eccentricity - then we reckon Painted Wolf is a pretty perfect place to start.

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