The Western Cape is full of interesting wine farms, large and small. We are fortunate enough to have a variety of different Wineland regions all within a relatively short driving distance from the city, with each region having unique aspects about them.
These are the most interesting wine farms in our province that you may not have heard of before.
Slightly off the beaten track that is the R44 – somewhere between Paarl and Stellenbosch – lies Marianne. Named after the female embodiment of the French Republic, this wine farm blends the flavour of our SA grapes with the centuries old know-how of French viniculture.
A modern and stylish tasting room awaits you, where biltong and wine pairing is on offer, as well as their Old World (think, European) style wines. Red wines (specifically Bordeaux varieties and Cape Blends) are the main thing here, but there is a Merlot rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc to keep non-red drinkers happy. Winemaker Francois Haasbroek is one of the Young Guns: young winemakers who are throwing out the rule book and getting creative with their winemaking process.
You probably drive straight past Beau Constantia on your way up Constantia Nek to Hout Bay. But you shouldn’t. Not only is it the highest vineyard in the Constantia wine valley (350m above sea level), it is surely the coolest winery in this area. A Bauhaus-inspired, double-storey tasting room – all chrome, glass and wood – looks out over the trees and on to the vineyard slopes.
Beau Constantia does what few wineries do: it keeps its wine bar open after hours. Here you can stay on until 8 pm drinking wine, specifically three unusual red wines based on Bordeaux (Cab Sav, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot) or Rhone (Shiraz) varieties, a Viognier and a white blend made up of Sauvignon Blanc (a fail safe variety in Constantia), Semillon and Viognier. Hats off to their sleek and playful branding, too.
Black Oystercatcher, Elim
Located in the Elim Wine Ward, the vineyards of Cape Agulhas – that’s Africa’s most southern point – were formed 900 million years ago, the only viticultural soils in the world to have once formed part of Antarctica. The area’s microclimate is distinct to any other in South Africa. A combination of cool temperatures – both at night and during the day – with a maritime climate and also the fact that Elim gets doses of both the south-easterly and south-westerly winds, means the grapes grow in rugged conditions. This makes yields lower and the resulting grapes are high quality, crisp and mineral in flavour.
Their wine selection is perfect – a good range without becoming exhaustive. Choose from Sauvignon Blanc, a Semillon blend, a Cab-Merlot rosé and red, and a Cab-Shiraz red. The farm’s stunning cottages and restaurant will make a trip to L’Aghulas irresistible, a pretty damn fine excuse to get out of Cape Town for the weekend.
This is where you go if you have a sweet tooth – with ports, dessert wine and brandies excelling here. The Nel family-run wine farm Bo Plass, located in Calitzdorp, Little Karoo, also boasts an amazing array of wines outside the sweet and fortified category with dry whites, dry reds and bubblies. Their adorably named Bobbejanneberg Sauvignon Blanc is a delight and I can still recall the taste of their straw wine and Cape Ruby (we aren’t officially allowed to call it Port here in SA) months down the line. March 2015 saw them harvest Hannepoot grapes from vines that had been planted in 1932! The wine will be a fortified one and released later this year.
Hout Bay Vineyards
Further along the road from Beau Constantia lies Hout Bay Vineyards. The first years after vines were first laid down in 2003 came with plenty of obstacles for husband and wife team Peter and Cathy who own the winery… But fast-forward to 2011 and their maiden vintage had arrived.
This little vineyard produces a decent portfolio of wines – a Bordeaux blend, Merlot, Shiraz, a blush (made from the grapes also used in their MCC bubbly), the bubbly itself – Klasiek – Sauvignon Blanc and a Port, with a dessert wine also in the pipeline. Open days at the winery fall in May and December, but call ahead and make an appointment to visit, taste and buy their wines.