South African Wineries - Top Ten Picks

 
 

Luvo Ntezo, Sommelier of the 12 Apostles Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, whets the appetite with a quick roundup of his absolute favourite must-see South African wineries.

 

10th June 2010

The Twelve Apostles Hotel
Luvo Ntezo

Luvo Ntezo

You’ll see the names on the wine lists at the Twelve Apostles, The Oyster Box and Bushmans Kloof, but when you can visit the estates in person it’s too good an opportunity to miss – we have some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world and they produce some outstanding vintages. 

Picking just ten wineries is almost impossible, but here goes.

Bouchard Finlayson.  I love Pinot Noir, so this is my all time favourite.  It’s in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, which translates as Heaven and Earth, so you get an idea of how breathtaking it is!   Framed by mountains and within sight of the ocean it enjoys a perfect microclimate – the surrounding peaks trap the clouds and moisture from the sea.  Summers are warm rather than hot, winters are mild and frost-free. The sea breezes keep vines cool and encourage slow ripening of flavour-rich grapes.  The most perfect clay shale vineyard soils complete the picture and their Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is legendary.

wine cellar

Wine Cellar

Steenberg Wine Estate.  My initial interest in wines was nurtured by Johan Lopshur of Steenberg.  The estate, only 20 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, hold the distinction of being the oldest farm (1682) in the picturesque Constantia Valley, which is generally considered to be South Africa’s premier wine growing region. With its cool, sea-facing slopes and majestic granite ridges, this vineyard has developed a worldwide reputation for producing excellent Cape wines.

Ken Forrester.  Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa’s most famous wine region Stellenbosch, this winery produces iconic chenins.    The farm was established 1689 and is blessed with duplex soils, mountainous terrain and a Mediterranean climate. The picture-perfect trellised vineyards have created many fabulous vintages, one of which was served at the 85th birthday of President Nelson Mandela.

shiraz grapes

Shiraz Grapes

Anura.  At the foothills on the Simonsberg Mountains in the Stellenbosch region.  Their passion is red wine, specifically Shiraz, but plantings of Mourvedré, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Malbec cater for a wide variety of tastes.

Veenwouden.  A small boutique winery, belonging to international opera singer, Deon van der Walt.  Situated in the Paarl region with spectacular views over the Klein-Drakenstein Mountains. 

Elgin Vintners.   A partnership of 6 dedicated grape growers in the cool climate area of the Elgin valley, to the east of the Stellenbosch region and 70km from Cape Town. 

Hamilton Russell Vineyards.  Another producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley in the Walker Bay region. 

Dieu Donné.  Situated high on the steep south facing slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains, the winery benefits from the cool climate and rocky soils of weathered granite. 

Du Toitskloof.   Located in a beautiful area near the town of Rawsonville in the Breede River Valley, at the entrance to the spectacular Du Toitskloof Mountain Pass.

Klein Constantia Estate.  In the verdant Constantia valley and part of the original vineyard that became famous for producing “Constantia”, prized throughout Europe in the 18th century by the aristocracy.   Klein Constantia has revived this world class sweet wine.

I’d love to discuss South African wines with you in person, but in the meantime you’ll find more information on my podcast.

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