Donkiesbaai

Donkiesbaai is on the West Coast, the name an eternal snub to the Englishman Sir Rufane Donkin, one-time Governor of the Cape Colony, and the motivation behind the name Donkin Bay. Which the Afrikaners nicknamed Donkiesbaai (Donkey’s Bay) after the Anglo-Boer War. Donkiesbaai has been the holiday home to four generations of the Rust en Vrede Engelbrecht’s since 1873.

The grapes for the Pinot Noir come from the highest block of Pinot in the country – right at the top of the Witzenberg Mountain range, while those for the Steen and Hooiwijn come from the DE Tol farm situated on the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass.

DeMorgenzon

Translated, DeMorgenzon means simply ‘the morning sun’ and was so named because it is the first part of the Stellenboschkloof Valley to see the sun due to its high altitude and aspect.

Famous for their ‘Maestro’ blends and Reserve Chenin Blanc; since 2008 Baroque music has been piped into the vineyards all day, every day. The effects of sound and music on plant growth is an intriguing subject, the energy of the sound waves rather than the sounds themselves serving to stimulate and nurture the growing vines. A number of experiments have taken place over time which assess these claims and the effects, though in their statistical infancy, point towards an increase in vigour, root growth and general vine health. Once the harvest has completed and the wines have been placed into barrel, music is again streamed throughout DeMorgenzon’s cellars, surrounding the wines in rich sound waves, permeating the oak and steel as they travel, with every single note.

Nowhere else in South Africa is the marriage of music and the fruit of the vine taken so seriously, no doubt influenced by owners Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum (who was responsible for the creation of Classic FM South Africa back in 1997).

Ernie Els Wines

Through his many travels around the globe Ernie Els has been exposed to and appreciated some of the world’s greatest wines, a developing interest which inevitably led in one direction; in 1999 the concept of Ernie Els Wines was born. As one of South Africa’s leading ambassadors and most recognizable of faces in the world of sport, it was fitting that Ernie should choose Stellenbosch to produce his wines, with vineyards located high up on the northern slopes of the Helderberg Mountain. The stunning new winery opened at the end of 2004.

With the help of award-winning winemaker Louis Strydom, they produced the maiden 2000 vintage of Ernie Els – a ‘classic’ Bordeaux blend. The intention from the outset was to focus on delivering a quality product that could hold its own in the company of the world’s finest wines. As demand for Ernie’s wines has grown, so has the range. The team was caught out by the unexpected level of demand for the inaugural vintage of ‘Big Easy’, a delicious, fruit-driven red blend which is now accompanied by a refreshing Big Easy Chenin Blanc and Rosé.

Darling Cellars

Some of Darling Cellars’ vineyards enjoy the coolness of the Darling Hills, just three miles from the roaring Atlantic on the west coast of South Africa, while others bask in sun in the flatter hinterland. Their lucky winemaking team thus has abundance of flavour profiles to play with, not to mention a funky mix of varieties. Darling is best known for Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc as well as old vine Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, but their winemakers actually have fifteen red varieties and nine white varieties at their disposal. Their luck continues: 96% of the vineyards are un-irrigated bush vines so yields are very low and the quality proportionately high.

Investment continues in the winery and cellar with some of the most modern and up-to-date winemaking equipment in the industry today. A modern bottling line, new presses, a barrel maturation cellar, a new grape off-loading system and continuing replanting of vineyards, to include noble cultivars, all contribute to Darling Cellars’ advances in contemporary winemaking.

Forge Mill

The Forge Mill range is well established with independent wine merchants and wholesalers in the UK, providing great value with varietal distinction and consistency. The wines are sourced from the wider Western Cape.

Bouchard Finlayson

Bouchard Finlayson is a top class, internationally-renowned estate situated in Walker Bay, mid-way between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas (the most southerly tip of Africa). The climate is largely influenced by the nearby cold Atlantic Ocean rendering it one of the coolest wine-growing areas in the Cape. The Hemel-en-Aarde valley, home to Bouchard Finlayson, is surrounded and sheltered by a mountain barrier, formed by Galpin Peak (810 metres) and the Tower of Babel (1200 metres), which traps the cloud cover and moisture brought in from the sea by the prevailing wind.

The estate is committed to conservation and sustainable farming, and they strongly believe their BWI membership sets them apart from other winemaking regions in the world. BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative) is a partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector, aimed at protecting the Cape’s rich floral kingdom. To this end, only 19ha of their most precious resource – the land – is under vine in order to preserve the natural indigenous fynbos (a valuable ecosystem).

Sutherland Vineyards

After searching the Cape for the perfect site, he discovered a small apple orchard in the Elgin Valley, and Sutherland Vineyards was born.

Sutherland Vineyards is situated just 9 km off the Atlantic Ocean with altitudes of 140 to 250m above sea level. Due to this proximity, ideal cool climate conditions are created. The resulting wines are more balanced with great depth and complexity of flavour.

Thelema Mountain Vineyards

Thelema Mountain Vineyards is a family owned and managed wine estate, part of the spectacular Simonsberg Mountain range in Stellenbosch, South Africa and home to Thelema and Sutherland wines.

Gyles Webb abandoned his accounting career in Durban to become a winemaker. In 1983, with the help of his wife’s family, the McLean’s he bought Thelema – the beginning of a family legacy.

The manor house was restored and the first wines under the Thelema label were released in 1988. By the mid 90’s Thelema’s wines sold out within a month after release, making it one of the most sought-after wine estates in South Africa. The Webb family describe Thelema as “one of the most beautiful places on earth”.

Through the understanding of their optimal climate and soil type, Thelema have firmly entrenched themselves as one of the leaders in Cabernet Sauvignon, placing Stellenbosch Cabernets firmly on the global wine map.

 

Ladybird Vineyards

Previously known as Laibach, the Simonsberg estate that was purchased by neighbouring Kanonkop in April 2022, is now known as Ladybird Vineyards.

Ladybird Vineyards 36ha of organic vineyards include Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Current vintages will still be offered under the Laibach identity, but from 2023 the range will fall entirely under the labels of Ladybird Vineyards.

The estates philosophy is to use viticulture methods to manage their vineyards that enhances the ecological balance of the vineyards natural cycle, as well as integrating the different parts of viticulture into an ecological whole.

Laibach Vineyards was sold to current owners, Johann & Paul Krige of neighbouring Kanonkop Wine Estate in April 2022.

According to Johann Krige, co-owner of Kanonkop Estate and Ladybird Vineyards, the acquisition of Laibach allowed for the creation of a new brand to herald in the next phase of this venerable Simonsberg property.

“The previous owners introduced the estate’s range of Ladybird wines which became one of the farm’s best-known features,” says Krige. “As new proprietors the Kanonkop team thus already have an established brand to work with in Ladybird.

This is a name strong enough to carry our new estate’s entire identity in a visible brand with which consumers can relate, especially as it carries the farm’s ethos of organic and sustainable farming.”

Ken Forrester Wines

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa’s most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester vineyards are commonly referred to as the ‘Home of Chenin Blanc’.

Ken Forrester represents the true pioneering spirit of the post-apartheid South African wine industry. Drawing on the examples of top Loire whites, he has used his uniquely placed Chenin vines to maximum effect and has single-handedly led a Chenin Blanc quality revolution. As a result these wines have achieved iconic status worldwide.

At the top end there is the beautifully balanced barrel-fermented Chenin FMC, made from fruit grown at Ken’s Stellenbosch vineyard, and the silky fine red The Gypsy, made from low yielding vines. An exciting range of wines from a great winemaker with something to suit every price point and palate.

Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably compliment a wide variety of food styles.

Thorne and Daughters

Thorne & Daughters is widely acknowledged to be one of the forerunners of the ‘New Wave’ wine movement in South Africa. Since 2013, John and Tasha Thorne-Seccombe have been producing innovative wines sourced from selected growers from right across the Western Cape. In the early 2000s, winemaking took the couple around the world, and they spent a few years in the UK, where John studied viticulture at Plumpton College.

Back in South Africa, a happy encounter with two similarly trailblazing young winemakers, Chris Alheit and Peter-Allan Finlayson, helped to lay the foundations for the first vintage of Thorne & Daughters. John and Tasha shared a small cellar with Chris and Peter-Allan until they later moved to rented cellar space at Gabriëlskloof, where the wines are made today.

Jam Jar

For anyone who likes their wines on the sweeter side, deserves to have a delicious and well-crafted option, and Jam Jar is the solution.