From the city to the Klein Karoo
When it comes to guild members, their previous career and study choices – from architect David Trafford to geologists Gary Jordan and Miles Mossop and zoology graduate Kevin Grant – are as varied as the appellations and settings in which they craft their award-winning wines.
Heading the list of interesting locations is the unconventional yet brilliant winemaker, Duncan Savage, whose city cellar is situated in Salt River, Cape Town. His business plan is deceptively simple – vineyards are leased and grapes are sourced from around the Western Cape. The fruit is then transported back to his urban HQ where he makes linear wines of purity and finesse.
Constantia, aka the cradle of winemaking, lies on the southern outskirts of the city just 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD and has a winemaking tradition dating back to 1685. Once known for its legendary, luscious sweet wines, today historic estates with gabled manor houses and boutique wineries rub shoulders on this compact wine route, where sea breezes from nearby False Bay cool the vineyards. Winemaking at Groot Constantia, the oldest wine-producing farm in the country, is in the capable hands of guild member Boela Gerber.
A 20 minute drive in the opposite direction takes you to Durbanville, which borders Cape Town’s northern suburbs. In this ward which also benefits from maritime influences, guild member Charles Hopkins, a self-proclaimed eternal student of wine, holds the cellar reins at De Grendel with its iconic views of Table Mountain, where he produces wines with character and personality.
We can’t mention Duncan without his partner in crime and co-maker of auction wine The Love Boat (but that’s a story for another day), Adi Badenhorst, which brings us to an appellation that is a hot and happening wine address – the Swartland, the scene of a ‘wine revolution’ when the area was rediscovered in the late 1990s. Fellow guild members Andrea Mullineux, Donovan Rall and David Sadie are among other like-minded producers who reside here.
Then we trundle up the West Coast and into the Cederberg mountains to some of the highest vineyards in the land at Dwarsrivier, the home of Cederberg Wines, which has been owned by long-serving guild member David Nieuwoudt’s family for five generations. Due to its remote location, unpolluted air and crystal-clear water, the vineyards remain virus free.
We mosey down the other side of the mountain to Tulbagh, which is home to guild member Dewaldt Heyns of Saronsberg. The valley is shaped like a horseshoe which creates a unique ‘cold trap’ whereby the cold night air lies undisturbed, resulting in relatively cool average daily temperatures. The mountainous terrain also creates many varied mesoclimates that can be used to great advantage.
On to Worcester, where guild member Pierre Wahl recently took the position of cellarmaster at Survivor Wines after leaving an indelible mark on winemaking in Tulbagh at Rijk’s Wine Estate, where he spent 20 years and earned a reputation as the ‘Pope of Pinotage’. Pierre makes wines using grapes from five wine-producing areas: the Swartland, Stellenbosch, Elgin, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge and Tradouw.
We stop in at Robertson, the ‘valley of vines and roses’, where lime-rich soils add minerality, depth and complexity, making the area eminently suitable for winegrowing. Here, John Loubser’s dream of producing his own wine was made manifest at Silverthorn Wines, where he specialises in Cap Classique, as does fellow guild member Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira, COO of Graham Beck Wines nearby.
Then we traverse the wide-open, dry and dusty plains of the Klein Karoo to the epicentre of port-style wines, Calitzdorp, where Carel Nel is the owner/cellarmaster at Boplaas. Portuguese varieties such as touriga nacional and tinta barroca (a happy mistake that was initially thought to be shiraz) also feature in dry red blends. Along with the vineyards, the property has also been planted to spekboom, a plant that is highly efficient at sequestrating carbon, as Carel is a keen conservationist. These are but a taste of the incredibly diverse appellations and terroirs in which our members craft their award-winning wines. More to follow soon…