A Pocket guide to Elgin wine Farms
Need to know a little more about the wineries of the region you are planning to visit in South Africa? With spectacular wine offerings in the Cape Winelands, a little preview always helps you find what you are looking for. Here is a focus on the wineries from the Elgin Valley. Visit their website winesofelgin.co.za for more experiences in the Valley
Wine is synonymous with the Elgin Valley. While only a blip on the radar compared to the deciduous fruit industry, Elgin wines have made a significant impact on the international stage. Since the first Wine of Origin Elgin saw the light in 1990, a remarkable wine tourism industry has unfolded in this beautiful and lush little Valley, now bursting at the seams with wineries offering accommodation, tasting facilities, wedding venues, and restaurants. Here is a guide to help you tailor-make a wine tasting experience to suit your needs.
SIP AND CYCLE
Paul Cluver Estate Wines: Fruit farming pioneer since 1896, the Cluver family also excel in winemaking. More recently, their mountain biking trails have become immensely popular. The newly renovated tasting room, furnished with wooden tables crafted by Dr Cluver himself, offers an inviting space to relax and explore their delicious wines. Famous for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, we recommend you also try their Riesling.
My pick: Riesling and Pinot Noir
Atmosphere: If you don’t cycle, there is plenty of shade under the old oak trees or on the tasting room’s unique deck.
Oak Valley Estate: Founded in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen, his great-great-grandson Christopher is at the helm of this diverse enterprise encompassing apples, pears, berries, wine, cut flowers, cattle and pigs. As the name suggests, the farm is shaded with hundreds of oak trees, but their wines (and mountain bike trails) attract most visitors to their farm.
My pick: Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling
Atmosphere: Great spot for friends and family, especially now with the new pop up restaurant.
SIP AND STAY FOR ONE MORE DAY
Elgin Vintners: The story and history of Elgin Vintners runs so deep that one needs to plan an extended visit as part of a weekend excursion. The wines are performing exceptionally well, with winemaker and shareholder Marinda Kruger-Claassen at the helm. Elgin Vintners offer different tasting experiences in their newly renovated tasting room cum restaurant. Here platter and pizzas can be enjoyed along with a diverse range of wines. Their four-star Elgin Vintners Country House, set in magnificent gardens, makes for the perfect romantic getaway or wedding venue.
My pick: Rose and Ridgelands Syrah
Atmosphere: Old world charm
South Hill Vineyards: Wine tourism at its best, the King family are rooted in a strong tradition of hospitality. Arguably one of the best breakfasts and lunch stops, their wines complement authentic country style dining. While the Pump House and House Boat are more romantic, the Guest House is a luxurious option for a group of friends (we celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday there) and it is popular for weddings.
My pick: Three Sisters Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc
Atmosphere: Great food and beautiful ambiance in the vineyard maze.
Paul Wallace Wines: Paul and Nicky Wallace have created a little oasis for wine lovers. Their focussed wine offering speaks of viticulturist Paul’s understanding of the expression of terroir. Nicky’s rose garden, the lure of largemouth bass in the dam, the joyful wagging of their dogs’ tails and chickens grazing the vines are some of the appealing attractions luring you to book a stay in their quaint cottages.
My pick: Black Dog Malbec and The Nix Noble Late
Atmosphere: True country style relaxation
Lothian Vineyards: This is as luxurious as it gets in the beautiful Elgin Valley. The setting is unsurpassed, poised on the banks of the Palmiet River and Applethwaite Dam. Here the Wilson family has established modern hospitality while still honouring the natural surrounds. This is the perfect setting for an intimate wedding or celebratory weekend.
My Pick: Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay impress
Atmosphere: Countryside luxury
WINE AND WONDERLUST
Although the wine brands listed below have their home cellars outside the Elgin Valley, they produce extraordinary wines from grapes sourced from within Elgin.
Neil Ellis was the first to release a wine officially demarcated as “Wine of Origin Elgin” in 1990 and make great wines from Elgin grapes. The Whitehall Chardonnay is a case in point.
Vrede en Lust in Paarl recognised the quality of grapes produced in the Elgin Valley and acquired the farm called Casey’s Ridge in 2005. Most of their white grapes hail from this property.
The Boschendal Appellation Series is produced from Elgin grapes. They have purchased a farm in Elgin and are committed to making premium Elgin Series of cool-climate styled wines.
Watch out for the wines from Moya Meaker, crafted in memory of the original Moya Meaker, crowned Miss South Africa in 1959. The wines are elegant and expressive.
In the early 2000’s Gyles Webb of Thelema, Stellenbosch, purchased an Elgin property. Today they produce exceptional and award-winning wines from the Elgin Valley under the Sutherland label.
The IDUN range of wines are the brainchild of Albert Rousset, a resident of Mauritius. Albert identified Elgin and the cool-climate profile of the resulting wines as perfectly suited to Mauritius’s balmy climes.
10 QUICK ELGIN WINE FACTS
Ever wondered what the secret is to wines from Elgin? Here is a pocket guide to understanding the wines if you are planning a visit to the Elgin Valley
- Elgin was declared a ward of the greater Overberg district in 1990 and then declared a district in 2011.
- Situated 70km south-east of Cape Town with 6400ha planted to apples, 1500ha grown to pears with less than 750ha under vine; the Elgin Valley forms an inland plateau, naturally defined by the surrounding mountains.
- Elevations range from 260-600 meters above sea level, and parent soils include Table Mountain Sandstone and Bokkeveld Shale.
- Elgin is rated as Region 2 on the Winkler Scale, making it one of the coolest wine-producing areas in South Africa.
- The cool climate allows the fruit longer hang time which in turn facilitates phenolic ripeness without losing freshness.
- Identifying characteristics of Elgin wines are higher natural acidities, lower pHs, fruit purity, and an underlying minerality (salty core)
- The mean temperature is February is 19.7°C.
- The prevailing summer south-east wind drapes its clouds over the surrounding mountains reducing temperatures and protecting grapes from sunburn.
- One of our most significant plus factors is a scientific phenomenon known as diurnal temperature fluctuation, meaning there is a substantial difference between daytime and night-time temperatures. Invariably the summer night time temperatures will be 15°C or lower.
- The average annual rainfall is 1011mm, predominantly in winter but with some rainfall in the summer months.
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