Travelling along the less beaten track of the Bottelary Hills will inevitably lead to the hidden gem that is Fort Simon Wine Estate. This prestigious wine producer is not often named when mentioning the Stellenbosch Winelands’ most popular farms, but it is the one that stands out the most.
As you drive up the winding gravel road and pull into the visitor parking lot, you may be surprised to find that the estate is modeled after a German tower complete with merlons and turrets. The stone used in the building of this fort was collected from the granite deposits on the farm, and affords a blissfully cool escape from the Cape Town heat.
Fort Simon was founded in 1997, and has been a small family-run estate since its inception. Its very first vintages were a Sauvignon Blanc and a superb Merlot/Pinotage blend. This blend earned the wine estate the first of many Veritas Double Gold Medals.
Crossing the bridge across the sparkling blue splash pool leads you to Michele Uys, the hands-on marketing director of Fort Simon, and wife of current owner Renier Uys. Michele often hosts classes to teach those who enjoy wine more about the process behind its making, and which parts of the mouth are used to identify the different flavour sensations.
Fort Simon wines and grapes are crafted in a “new world style” which produces bold and luscious wines that are renowned for their robust fruity aromas.
“Our success in winemaking also rests upon our solid foundation in cultivating grapes with a hands-on approach and respecting the environment by putting as much back in as we take out,” Michele said.
Although the wine farm only has one winemaker, its cellar produces up to 900 tonnes of wine per year, and is famous for their unwooded white wines.
Their wooded white wines are oaked in French and American barrels, giving each wine a unique taste.
Fort Simon is all about giving back to the environment as much as they take from it, and cultivates their grapes lovingly and with a hands-on approach.
A firm favourite and definite crowd pleaser is the Fort Simon Viognier Nobel Late Harvest 2017. Many dessert wines have a tendency to be overpoweringly sweet, but its honey, raisin and almond flavours are perfectly balanced by a beautiful crispness that will leave you smacking your lips for more.
The wine estate also offers a popular wedding venue, called Fort Anna. Surrounded by lush gardens and sweeping lawns, it is the perfect place to create memories on your big day.
The foyer and reception hall of Fort Anna are beautiful and rustic, taking you back to the time when this German tower was built. Weddings here have an air of intimacy that has been long forgotten.