Wines of South Africa- With Jo Barrett

This week we are exploring Wine from South Africa. The Cape winelands stretch from the rugged mountains and multi-directional slopes of the coastal region to the open plains of the Klein Karoo where viticulture takes place mainly in the riverine valleys. South Africa’s vineyards are mostly situated in the Western Cape near the coast. Currently around 95,775 hectares of vines producing wine grapes are under cultivation over an area some 800 km in length. Under the auspices of the Wine of Origin Scheme, production zones in the Cape winelands are divided into officially demarcated geographical units, regions, districts and wards. There are five regions in the geographical unit of the Western Cape – Breede River Valley, Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo and Olifants River – and Boberg (for use in respect of fortified wines from Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington and Tulbagh). Another five geographical units exist: Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Northern Cape. The South African winelands encompass 27 diverse districts and some 71 smaller wards in total.

South African Wine Map

South African wine has a history dating back to 1659 with Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town. Access to international markets led to new investment in the South African wine market. Production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centres at Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. There are about 60 appellations within the Wine of Origin (WO) system, which was implemented in 1973 with a hierarchy of designated production regions, districts and wards.


The Swartland appellation of South Africa has become ground central for a small, but influential group of talented young winemakers who are establishing new boundaries for South African wines. A.A. Badenhorst is located in the Siebritskloof area of the Paardeberg mountain range in Swartland. The estate is owned by cousins Adi and Hein Badenhorst – their grandfather was the farm manager of Groot Constantia for 46 years and their fathers grew up on the estate.  The vineyards are dry-farmed and biodynamic methods are practiced throughout the farm. The vineyards are particularly noteworthy for their exposition – instead of facing one direction; the parcels were planted on east, north and south facing slopes. The soils are composed of low-bearing Paardeberg, Lammershoek or Lemoenfontein granite. While Adi and Hein have modernized the cellar and the 1930’s farm house, Adi’s winemaking methods are traditional.


Warwick Estate is a 3rd generation, family run estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa nestled in between the Kanonkop and Klapmutskop hills. This property was first a farm, from 1791-1902 until Colonel Alexander Gordon bought the estate in 1902 and renamed it after his Warwickshire regiment. Stan and Norma Ratcliffe bought the 247 acre property in 1964 and sold their Cabernet Sauvignon fruit to high-quality local wineries until 1984, when they released their first vintage. Norma Ratcliffe ‒ often referred to as the “First Lady” of South African wine – was the first female winemaker in South Africa and is best known for establishing the South African Bordeaux blend category. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinotage, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are planted on south facing slopes to Hutton and Clovelly soils. The estate’s 138 acres of vines are farmed in a sustainable manner – 40% of which are drip irrigated – and no herbicides or pesticides are used.

The De Wet family history can be traced back to 1694 when the first De Wets landed on the Cape of South Africa. By the early 1800’s, the De Wets owned vineyards in the Robertson area and in 1972, De Wetshof became the first registered estate winery in the valley. The estate is owned by winemaker Danie de Wet, a graduate of Geisenheim, the wine institute in Germany. While he was a student in Europe, the wines of Burgundy captured his imagination, especially Chardonnay. After returning home Danie did exhaustive tests before planting carefully selected Chardonnay clones and rootstocks, becoming one of the first wineries in South Africa to do so. Danie has worked extensively with American viticulturist, Dr. Phil Freese and South African wine expert Francois Viljoen, of VinPro. Danie is joined by his sons, viticulturalist Johann and assistant winemaker Peter. Two-thirds of the 494 acre estate is planted to Chardonnay, the remainder is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muscat de Frontignan, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Each vineyard on the estate has a different soil composition, leading to unique expressions in each wine. The soils in Robertson Valley, comprised of limestone and gravel, produce flinty, full-bodied Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The estate vineyards closer to the Breede River Valley are planted on limestone and clay soils and lend structure and depth to the wines.


Robertson Limestone Hill Chardonnay :: Reg $18 Sale $16

The 2015 Limestone Hill Chardonnay comes from seven- to 21-year-old vines cropped between five and eight tons per hectares. This unwooded Chardonnay has a pretty nose with apricot blossom, slate and almond-tinged bouquet that gently opens in the glass. The palate is fresh and poised with a fine bead of acidity, tensile with a focused dried apricot and lemon curd finish.

Secateurs Rosè :: Reg $18 Sale $16

60% Cinsault and 40% Shiraz This is a truly unique rosè as it was made from very old vines and really displays the minerality that characterises the wines from the A.A. Badenhorst farm. The aromas are complex red fruits, spice, rose water, currants and the palate is generous and textured with a long finish.

Warwick Cabernet :: Reg $19 Sale $17

100% Cabernet Sauvignon matured for 14 months in French oak. Older barrels only are used so that the oak does not dominate all the luscious dark cherry and raspberry fruit. This wine is ready for drinking but can be aged for 3-5 years. Warwick suggests “to drink it and reload with more”. Contrary to popular tastes they also suggest  on a hot evening, to chill the wine ever-so-slightly for a refreshing finish.

A.A.Badenhorst, Swartland Caperitif Vermouth :: Reg $36 Sale $33

From the cellar of Kalmoesfontein and the mountain slopes of the Paardeberg Badenhorst brings you Caperitif. Chenin Blanc fortified with spirit, gently sweetened by the sugar of the grapes, bittered by Quinchona bark and flavoured with some 35 truly Cape ingredients such as fynbos, kalmoes and naartjies.


Saturday Tasting



Elevation Beer Company is a craft brewery in the rural mountain town of Poncha Springs, Colorado. Founded on the principles of hard work, dedication, discipline and of course playing hard, Elevation believes quality beer is the result of living a quality lifestyle. Elevation brews beer for the outdoor enthusiast and hard-working man alike with a handful of easy-drinking classics like 8 Second Kolsch, First Cast IPA, and Little Mo’ Porter. Ever eager to elevate people’s perceptions of beer, Elevation also offers unique seasonal, specialty, and barrel aged beers. At Elevation, we are more than just a beer company, we are a family, a community, and a collective of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it! Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl so we can CHEERS! 



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