This year I started running UnWined wine appreciation courses at The Vineyard Hotel. One of the weekly topics covers Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. On raising the question to some friends who work in the industry as to whom they think I should approach to present at this course, they both suggested Sean Skibbe from South Hill within moments. I did as they recommended and haven’t looked back since.
South Hill is in the gorgeous Elgin Valley – you know, one of the most beautiful wine routes that you drive past en route to Hermanus. Next time, please, make sure you give yourself some time to explore this area.
After school, Sean thought he wanted to be an accountant, of all things. It took two years of a BComm to realise that accounts and he were not on good terms. He ended up graduating with a Social Science degree majoring in Economics, then did a post graduate diploma in marketing at UCT. Whilst at university he funded his studies by working as a sommelier at Buitenverwachting Restaurant, which is really where the wine bug caught him.
It took a few years, but eventually he realised that it was winemaking that he really wanted to do and enrolled at Elsenburg. After graduation he worked a harvest at Jordan Winery in Stellenbosch before joining South Hill in June 2005, in time to be involved in the creation of the brand and the maiden 2006 vintage.
South Hill was previously known as South Hall Farm and used to be planted with fruit orchards. The cold winters, cool summers and the deep fertile soils which made the valley the obvious choice for apple farmers also meant that influential and respected wine makers are now investing in Elgin. South Hill was purchased by a consortium of four South African businessmen in May 2001, but is now solely owned by Kevin King. Since 2012 Sean has made a few wines under this label as well. All these wines are extremely limited release and site expressive, only available for purchase from the farm and specialist wine stores.
With added attractions of an art gallery, function venue, restaurant run by Chef Damian Dearlove, and guest house, you really can end up spending days here – as we did!
Where 113 The Valley Road, Elgin
Tasting and sales Monday to Sunday 10 am – 4 pm. The Gallery Restaurant: Wednesday to Sunday noon – 3 pm
Contact +27 21 844 0888, [email protected] or visit www.southhill.co.za
Karen Glanfield is host of the very successful ‘Unwined’ wine appreciation courses, a Wine Specialist Tour Guide and is involved in many other vinous activities.