Freelance Writer - Instagram.com/andrewthompsonsa26 March 2020
From spots with ocean views to biodynamic farms with exquisite natural wines – here, winemaker Trizanne Barnard rounds-up the best wineries within reach of Cape Town.
For casual quaffers, Cape Town’s diverse wine estates offer an ideal escape from the city – a place to savour good wines in scenically spectacular locations. But for those in the know, like Barnard, there are few wine regions in the world that can rival those in the Western Cape for quality, diversity, value and natural beauty.
If anyone in Cape Town knows how to identify a good varietal, it’s Barnard. She’s worked with multiple vintages in France, Portugal and Australia, and at respected local estates Klein Constantia and Anwilka. She now makes wine under her own label Trizanne, and spends much of her spare time sampling the very best that the Western Cape has to offer.
Whether you’re looking for panoramic views or unique wines, there’s no denying that when in Cape Town, a day – or a full weekend – at a wine farm is always time well spent. These are some of the best that should feature on every itinerary.
Boutique wine estate Keermont is situated in the wine-rich region of Stellenbosch, in the heart of the Blaauklippen Valley, just a one hour drive east of Cape Town. The estate dates back to 2003, when the owners bought two adjacent wine farms to form Keermont Vineyards. Although small, Barnard believes the beautiful estate punches well above its weight: “They are situated in an epic spot between the mountains,” she says, “and Alex Starey is an incredible wine producer – he really captures the essence of the Blaauklippen Valley.” Walk-ins are welcome at their tasting room on Fridays and Saturdays between 10.30am and 1.30pm, but it’s possible to call ahead and book a tasting outside of hours. There’s also accommodation on the farm in the form of a modern apartment, and a classic farmhouse.
Waterkloof is one of the most celebrated and visited wine farms in the Western Cape. It’s located on the outskirts of scenic Somerset West, and there’s no shortage of incredible views and intriguing activities on offer within the large premises. There’s an elevated tasting lounge, horseback rides, guided walks and full cellar tours for you to enjoy.“They have an amazing restaurant, and also focus on biodynamic farming,” says Barnard. As a result, all fruit at the estate is hand-picked and hand-sorted, and there’s a strong emphasis on producing balanced wines in a natural manner, with minimal intervention. “Waterkloof winemaker Nadia Barnard is also an incredible winemaker,” she says.
Newton Johnson is a family-owned wine farm based in the spectacular Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, about a 90-minute drive from Cape Town. The family built a cellar and planted the first vineyards on the property in the mid-90s, and their passion for wine (in particular Pinot Noir), and the surrounding valley, has carried through to the younger generation of owners and winemakers. This resonates strongly with Barnard, who lists this as one of her favourite estates to visit. “Winemakers Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson are also a formidable team,” she says. “And together with Bevan Johnson, they are true custodians of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.”
This family-owned wine estate set in the Swartland wine region is probably best known for its Secateurs range of wines, but Barnard agrees with most in the industry that the rest of Hein and Adi Badenhorst’s wines are worthy of a visit to the estate. Like at many estates in the Swartland region, tastings are only possible by appointment, and for those who wish to extend their stay there are several impressive accommodation options to choose from. All of these include access to wine tastings and tours of the estate, with prior bookings, so you can truly experience the biodynamic natural wines they produce on the estate – just one of the reasons why Barnard rates this as one of the top vineyards in the country.
As far as wine estates in the middle of nowhere go, Sijn is up there with the best, situated close to the southern tip of Africa at the end of a long, bumpy dirt road. The farming conditions here are harsh, and as a result Sijn is the first estate to attempt anything of this nature in the Malgas region. But the results thus far have been spectacular, and, according to Barnard, this is precisely why it should be visited. “The estate is located in an incredible part of our country,” she says. “And they have extreme vineyards from the maestro David Trafford and Charla Bosman at the winemaking helm.” There’s a tranquil tasting room open on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm, and the surrounding region of Malgas is also scenically beautiful and rich in history.
Mullineux Wines has received widespread attention recently, owing to its range of celebrated wines winning multiple international awards. The opening of a tasting room in the heart of Franschhoek wine country makes their award-winning wines much more accessible to travellers, and it earns a recommendation from Barnard as a “winery that’s at the top of our industry.” The Wine Studio on Leeu Estates in Franschhoek offers a full tasting experience and is exceedingly popular, so booking ahead is recommended.
Cape Point Vineyards has earned a slew of positive recommendations from Cape Peninsula road trippers returning from a day meandering along the scenic coastline. It has stunning views, its own dam around which to picnic, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere – to sample the wines, or just enjoy a day in the sun. “Cape Point Vineyards has some of the best terroir in the Cape,” says Barnard, “and possibly the most dedicated winemaker, Riandri Visser, in charge here.”