Signal Hill Wines holds the honour of being the only fully-fledged wine estate located in the Cape Town CBD. It was founded in 1997 and moved to the CBD in 2001 as a way to re-appropriate the tradition of having wineries in the city.
We spoke to the winery’s founder, Jean-Vincent Ridon, to find out more about this inner city wine spot and their involvement in Tuning the Vine 2015.
Please tell us about Signal Hill Winery
We are a small estate that only produces around 5,000 bottles each year and we are dedicated to unusual wines of intense personality. For us, it’s about stories, pictures, art and lifestyle – and being French, which is an active part of my culture.
The winery is situated in a building that dates back to 1771, which makes us feel part of the city history. We have won numerous awards and have even held the title of ‘best South African wine’ in the United States for years, with our 2002 Eszencia.
How can one get involved with the winery?
We have an open door policy for everything we do, from harvesting to bottling, so our clients can follow us on Facebook and work with us during all these events. We organize various harvest packages for people to partake and enjoy.
What makes Signal Hill wine different?
Our Motto is, ‘Vive La Difference’, so we were the first to produce unusual wines in the country such as Grenache, Petit Verdot, Ice Wine and Azsu. One of our winemakers is Zulu, but he is French-trained, so our wines are very classic in their originality.
We grow grapes in the city, harvest in the city, ferment and mature in the city, and even bottle in the city – a logistical nightmare – but something that sets us apart from other wine estates in the Western Cape.
What has been your involvement in Tuning The Vine?
It’s been a great adventure for us because people not only enjoy drinking wine, but they are avid learners too; they want to be told stories about our wines. I offer all visitors a unique take on the story of wine, guiding them through unusual cultivars and different wines. For many it’s their first encounter with the wines I serve and the response is very positive. People come to me to interact, not with a sales person, but with a winemaker who is involved in every part of the process. I am a well-trained sommelier, so I can guide them through their own tastes and preferences.
What are some of your tips to select and enjoy a bottle of wine?
Wine is social. It’s a story you want to share with your friends. Not just a label telling you that it is the best wine and that it matches the pasta! A wine should never be everybody’s favourite, as we are all different, and the concept of a ‘best wine’ is not right. Everyone has their own taste. Don’t just follow your friend’s recommendations. Diversity is essential. I don’t want people to buy a full case; they will be bored! Buy one or two bottles of each.
What can we expect from a visit to Signal Hill Wines?
Our city winery offers free tastings, a wine bar, and a wine shop. The winery has tables where you can have lunch, which you order from one of the nearby restaurants. You can order a bottle of wine for your table at the shelf price, and we offer a daily special at R30 per glass of a surprise wine – if you don’t like it, you don’t pay!
Take some advice from Signal Hill Winery and Jean-Vincent Ridon, ‘If we have to be monogamous in life, at least, let us have a different wine every day.’
Where 100 Shortmarket Street, Heritage Square, CBD
When Open to the public 11 am – 6 pm Monday – Friday. Open every Saturday from December to April.
Contact +27 21 422 5206