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Four Wineries that remind you that it is time to start treating Cape Agulhas as a serious wine destination

  • Tuesday, 12 March 2019
  • Linda Chivell

Cape Agulhas wine route banner

In past years if someone you knew were planning a trip to Hermanus wine country it meant they thought you were going to the Hemel-en Aarde Valey or Botriver (or, perhaps, both). Now, a new generation of winemakers in a patch of unique Southern African soil is looking to change that.

The Elim / Cape Agulhas appellation has its place among the world’s top winegrowing regions and one about which wine lovers have become incredibly passionate. The result is that the area is becoming one of the most closely watched wine producing regions in the world.

The Agulhas Plain is home to the southernmost tip of Africa and the meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans believed to have been formed more than 900 million years ago, once having been part of Antarctica.

southern tip

 Climate

Thousands of flora species flourish in this region characterised by outstretched sand plains, wetlands, gravelly bottomlands and extensive limestone and calcareous dunes. Until a few years ago, all of the wineries used to be agricultural or cattle and sheep farms. The wineries have achieved amazing success by experimenting with different blends, cultivars and flavours. Most vineyards are planted within sight of the ocean resulting in a  maritime climate with the cooling sea breezes that ensure that the vineyards are kept cool which results in late ripening intense fruit.

The consistently cool, moderate climate between Walker Bay and Cape Agulhas and the mineral-rich soil have proven to be perfect for making a fine range of wines - especially Sauvignon Blancs.

All of these wineries offer wine-tasting, sales and tours by appointment and boast a variety of delicious red, white and rosé wines.

Lomond Wines

Lomond tasting room

Lomond Wines is situated on The Agulhas Plain near the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas – the meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans – 8km from the fishing village of Gansbaai and within sight of the sea.

On the slopes of the Ben Lomond mountain in the Uilenkraal Valley, Lomond’s vineyards are planted on as many as 18 different soil types producing intriguingly complex wines with flavour profiles that differ markedly from one block to the next.

Selective hand harvesting, sorting and respect for the individual vineyard blocks is what drives their winemaking processes. These limited-production wines are meticulously crafted from individual vineyards which result in a wine which expresses the essence of the vineyard and the terroir in which they are grown.

Each Lomond wine is named after a Fynbos species endemic to Cape Agulhas.

The Periwinkle grapes

The Giant Periwinkle

Pierre Rabie, already considered himself a “winemaker” at the tender age of 9.  His friends and partners, Karen van Helden and Robert Stelzner, were introduced to the wine when helping him with the bottling of his Giant Periwinkle wine many years ago.  The wine would later be served at their wedding.

His Story

Pierre established The Giant Periwinkle from small beginnings in rented spaces and handcrafted labels to where it is – still a fledgeling winery but with its own cellar, vineyards and brand new label. The home of the Giant Periwinkle can now be found at South Cape Vineyards a small farm which still needs to grow into its name near Baardskeerdersbos, a stone’s throw from Elim in the Cape Agulhas wine district.

The Baardskeerdersbos terroir is not without its challenges but has also been generous with its rewards. Pierre’s team have grown from a garagiste winery into a boutique winery. The naming of the wines

Some of the names of the wines are inspired by the English for “baardskeerder” the arachnid after which the village is named. 

From B’bos to Shakespeare may be a stretch, but no one, other than the Scottish society of whisky manufacturers, has objected.

Ghosts Corner

ghosts corner  Don’t take my word for it, rather listen to the winemaker himself-

“Unique wines from an extreme terroir at the southernmost tipoff Africa”- David Niewoudt

The extreme and mysterious landscape at the southernmost tip of Africa has been the inspiration for the Ghost Corner Wines. More than 130 ships have found their last resting place in these treacherous waters where compass readings show no deviation between magnetic and true north and navigation was just about impossible on dark and stormy nights.

Inland from this dramatic coastline, in the Elim Ward, lie the vineyards where David is making the most of excellent growing conditions, cooling southeasterly breezes and extreme climate. The deep lime-rich soil with plentiful slate and gravel deposits give rise to the exceptional Ghost Corner wines – Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc,

Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and The Bowline. A range of wines that linger on the palate, evoking a sense of mysteries past.

Strandveld Vineyards

strandveld

A few kilometres south and only 9kms from the sea you will find, Strandveld Vineyards which claims the title of the southernmost cellar on the African continent. Their First Sightings range refers to the original sighting of the South African coastline by the Portuguese explorers in 1488. One of their flagship wines holds the name Strandveld Pofadderbos referring to the deadly poisonous puff adders to be found in that particular vineyard.

Their Story

It was in 1488 that Bartholomeu Diaz and his team of Portuguese sailors first laid eyes on this corner of the continent. Centuries later similarly intrepid explorers, in their infinite wisdom, realised the potential such a richness of environment could produce. Inspired by these individuals, it was in 2001 that a group of enthusiastic wine lovers turned to the original navigation maps to seek out potential new vineyard sites equally undeterred by the fierce storms and blustering gales that now give rise to the characteristic grapes and consequentially distinctive Strandveld Vineyards wines.

strandveld winemaker

The winemaker

Conrad Vlok, winemaker since 2004, is a true man of the soil whose warm temperament and empathetic relationship with the environment is reflected in the nature of his wines.

Being Strandveld Vineyards first winemaker, Conrad has a close affinity to the terroir, vineyards and naturally, the cellar.

When he is not working in the vineyards or slaving away in the cellar blending art and science, you can be sure to find him trekking in the veld or braving the wild Atlantic off Cape Agulhas in his sea kayak.

And so, we leave it up to you to explore the Cape Agulhas Wine Route, the new kid on the block no one should overlook.

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