It's that time of year again and we kicked off the 2019 Gauteng Wine Professionals tour in the wee hours of last Sunday morning at OR Tambo International Airport before driving out to Sijnn Wines at Malgas. Monday we were with Richard Kershaw Wines in Elgin and then with B Vintners and Raats Family Wines in Stellenbosch. Tuesday saw us trekking out to the Swartland to visit an old Chenin Blanc vineyard with The Fledge & Co. before driving through to Paserene in Franschhoek. Wednesday our focus was in Stellenbosch first in the Helderberg with De Trafford, and then on the Helshoogte Pass with Miles Mossop Wines. It was a jam-packed trip with an incredible group of people. Here is a selection of pictures from the trip with more of them available on our Facebook page.
Words cannot express the gratitude we have for these amazing winemakers who gave of their time and provided once in a lifetime experiences for the team. We work with small family wineries who have an unerring commitment to producing premium quality wines with minimal intervention and share a similar focus, values, and goals. This trip really highlighted the role of the family at every stop.
Sijnn at Malgas with winemaker Charla Haasbroek Bosman
Arguably South Africa's most extreme vineyards on the banks of the Breede River at Malgas and the vision of pioneering winemaker David Trafford leaves one in awe. There are no vineyards for 100kms around; this is a hard-working, tight-knit team and Charla is a tough cookie. She's been making the wines here since 2015 and the new vintages are spectacular.
Charla spoiled us with verticals of Sijnn White at the winery followed by a vertical of the reds at Tides Lodge where we stayed over for the evening. Special thanks for the amazing braai and dinner she and her husband Casper put on for us in this special place.
Richard Kershaw Wines in Elgin
Richard Kershaw, MW, and his amazing team welcomed us on a dreary day proving that Elgin definitely has a cool climate as our jackets came out rather quickly on arrival. We had a fascinating cellar tour with Dudley and Richard taking the team on an epic earning journey. Grapes had just been received and the got to see and taste fermenting juice and a variety of vessels from flex cubes to ceramic eggs and barrels. The smells and sounds were terrific.
Thoroughly spoiled as Richard and his team took us through a tasting of some of SA's most highly sought after wines.
The view of the valley was spectacular and worth braving the elements. Incidentally, the minute we started down Sir Lowry's pass the weather cleared and we reached Stellenbosch a good 8 degrees warmer.
B Vintners, Raats Family Wines
From Elgin to Stellenbosch and an incredible welcome by Bruwer and Gavin - a toast with the next vintage (just made) of the Eden
And witnessing a spectacular sunset at the same time.
On to the tasting room for a magnificent lineup; followed by a
We were seriously spoiled at supper with some older vintages and special gems including the Eden
The Fledge & Co. with Leon Coetzee in the Swartland
We really needed the coffee kickstart after our previous late night so the rendezvous in Riebeek Kasteel was a great call before following Leon into the vineyards.
We headed into an old block of Chenin Blanc, planted in the
We returned to Leon's family home in Riebeek West to taste the range and enjoy a lunch prepared by him and his folks. Leon's musings, philosophy lessons and joyous sense of
Martin Smith at Paserene in Franschhoek
Paserene is the brainchild of Martin Smith, one of the most creative winemakers in the Cape. The wines tell incredible stories including those of Martin's journey in life. This tasting room in Franschhoek is breath-taking - light, airy and evocative - framed by jagged mountains yet somehow incredibly serene.
After dropping our belongings we drove down the road to the cellar where we tasted juice pressed earlier in the day and a variety of barrel samples. Such a spoil!
Everyone got to sniff a brand new barrel and gain insight into how these vessels shape a wine. We headed back for a tutored tasting with Martin and his team.
Martin has a new wine out called Shiner. He is writing a crime novel and each wine in the Shiner series will feature a chapter of his novel. You will have to collect all the wines to read the book in full. This 1st one is a Bordeaux blend and we will have it available for tasting at our Gauteng Trade Shows in April.
Our Paserene visit included breathtaking views, another spectacular sunset and a feast on a braai Martin had built that did double duty as our campfire after eating.
High in the Helderberg with David Trafford at De Trafford Winery
Surrounded by mature forest, and seemingly at one with nature, Mont Fleur is a very special place and well worth a visit. We walked in the vineyards - old and new, spent time in the cellar and then had the opportunity to taste
David patiently explained his gravity flow cellar and the equipment to our team. He answered loads of questions and presented a very special lineup including an older vintage of his Straw wine - a category he was the first to pioneer in South Africa. David is a qualified architect which may account for the sense of structure often noted in his wines.
David's wife is chef and artist, Rita Trafford, who designs the labels each year for his Chenin Blanc and Straw Wine. In addition to this, Rita has been making the most exquisite scarves made with botanical images foraged from the surrounding mountains. Learn more here.
Miles Mossop Wines
Miles spent nearly 20 years at Tokara before venturing out on his own. With no vineyards or cellar of his own, he and his wife Sam (a talented interior designer) welcomed us into their beautiful home on the Helshoogte Pass. Miles spoiled us by showing his first vintages of each wine (2004) alongside the current ones illustrating his journey and vision. With very few of these bottles left, this incredible generosity made a singular impression on our group. The flagship wines are named for his three children - Saskia, Max
Sam made the most delicious fresh lunch, mainly with goodies straight from the garden. On a hot afternoon, it was a real treat capped by a delicious baked plum pudding served with the Miles Mossop Kika 2009 and 2017 vintages.
We nearly took the plunge into the pool but with a flight just a few hours away nobody braved the waters. We did enjoy some fun in the sun drawing our 2019 annual Gauteng Wine Professionals Tour to a close.