Tucked away in the picturesque Cederberg Valley, about three hours and a gravel road from Cape Town, you’ll find a wine estate like no other – Cederberg Wines.
Found on the Dwarsrivier Farm, at the foot of the 2 026 m Sneeuberg, Cederberg claims the title of the wine farm highest above sea level in the Western Cape, a factor that heavily influences its wine production. It’s here that master winemaker David Nieuwoudt carefully cultivates a number of grape varieties, including Pinor Noir, which take full advantage of the cool Mediterranean climate enjoyed by the Cederberg.
After a rather bumpy and somewhat harrowing drive over the Nieuwoudts Pass (named after the family that has owned the estate since 1835) and the Uitkyk Pass (uitkyk in Afrikaans translates to ‘lookout’), you arrive in the bucolic surroundings of Cederberg Wines. The Cape Dutch architecture of the farm’s office building hints at its rich heritage, dating back to the mid-1800s.
The tasting room, in contrast, is modern and welcoming, with a striking pebble-encrusted wall that immediately catches your eye upon entering. Each pebble, we were told by our host and apprentice winemaker Jean Nel, was picked up from the bed of the nearby Dwarsrivier. But, it’s the wines we are here for today.
At just R20 for a tasting, the three-hour drive from Cape Town suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. And what a tasting we were treated to! More than two dozen wines are on offer at Cederberg Wines, the bulk produced from grapes grown a stone’s throw away. Other varieties, however are trucked in from Elim, in the Hemel-en-Aarde region near Hermanus (how they get the massive trucks carrying the grapes over the Uitkyk Pass I still don’t know). A handful of wines in the Longavi range are produced from grapes that originate in Chile.
The R20 tasting fee, however, got my travel partners and I a taste of no less than 15 (yes, fifteen!) of Cederberg Wines’ finest. And what a delight! My favourite was by far the Ghost Corner Bowline 2015, David Nieuwoudt’s flagship blend. Be sure to try the bone-dry Sustainable Rosé 2016, however, and the Bukkettraube 2015 if you’re looking for a sweeter white wine. Whatever your personal preference, you’re sure to find something on Cederberg’s wine list that leaves your taste buds tingling.
Never before have I felt so treated to visit a wine estate. Many, I find, are pretentious and unwelcoming, looking only to get bums in and out of seats and hopefully sell you a bottle or two of wine along the way. But Jean treated my party to a walk through Cederberg’s wine-making history, and offered us a taste of what I firmly believe is some of the best wine I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
And, if like me, you think the tasting fee would be a steal at twice the price, don’t worry – I walked away having bought a couple of boxes-worth of various types from their cellar, so I don’t feel guilty at all.
Cederberg Wines might be a bit of a drive for just a day trip (250 km, which takes about three hours each way), so I highly recommend staying at the nearby Sanddrif Holiday Resort – especially if you plan on having a few drinks! Accommodation is reasonably priced, comfortable, and provides ample opportunity for adventuring. Read my blog post here on Sanddrif and all it has to offer.
When Tastings: Monday to Saturday 9 am – 12 noon, 2 pm – 4:30 pm, public holidays 9 am – 11:30 am, 4 pm – 5:30 pm, closed on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas
Where Cederberg Wines, Dwarsrivier Farm, Cederberg Valley
Cost R20 for wine tasting, see online shop for wine prices
Contact +27 482 2827, [email protected], www.cederbergwine.com
Photography courtesy Jonathan Meyer