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The Winery of Good Hope Swartland Vines

"At The Winery of Good Hope, we have been analyzing and experimenting in various alternative sites around the Cape, across an array of cool climate areas, high altitude locations and warmer though coastal spots -using numerous grape varieties, styles and techniques. From the Southern tip of Africa at Cape Aghulus, over the Mountains to the altitudes of Elgin, heading westwards all the way along to the Atlantic-facing summits of the Darling Hills. But the most exciting results we have unearthed are from the totally unassuming though inspiring Perdeberg Mountain, in the Swartland. We believe that this West Coast site is the best kept viticultural secret in South Africa.

THE VINEYARDS AND THE LOGIC

In an area where annual rainfall is a third lower than in Stellenbosch, where the mean mid-Summer (February) temperature is 4 degrees higher than in Stellenbosch and where altitudes are generally 200m lower, the pervading mentality has always been that the Swartland is wheat and table grape country- and certainly not premium wine country. This bias is beginning to be seriously challenged.

Red Grapes go into 600L Barrel for Fermentation


The Perdeberg Mountain dominates the sprawling wheat and cereal planes of the Swartland. It is a lone and imposing outcrop of decomposed granite slopes and peaks, a very distant summit from the silhouette of Table Mountain, visible directly to its South. The West and South-West facing slopes of the Perdeberg have , in this otherwise parched and rugged, rocky environment, some modifying influences, facing directly as they do the cold Atlantic Ocean –which is chilled by the Benguela current, flowing immediately up from the South Pole. With the combination of the maritime breezes, the higher altitude, the granitic sub-soils and the favourable exposures, the Perdeberg Mountain possesses potentially, in fact, some of the most ideal conditions in the Cape to produce world class wines –of certain varieties. This fact is now borne-out by the emergence from the Perdeberg of the Cape’s first iconic wine, and its most sought-after and expensive one : Columella - from the Sadie Family. Indeed it was Eben Sadie and Willie & Tanja De Waal (from Scali) who introduced us to the potential of the Pederberg, some years ago. They converted us from our ignorance and prejudice that the Swartland was a low potential region, to believing fully in its outstanding potential and thus to invest considerable resources in this area.

We spent three years researching the various Terroirs and vineyards until we found what we believe to be one of the greatest spots of them all, in Aprilskloof. Not only did we uncover the ideal partners there (thanks again to Eben Sadie), possessing established vineyards in the particular locations and micro-climates we had identified as being our prefernce, but we also found ourselves with a far more diverse selection of ideal varieties to work with than we had imagined possible. The mineral soils and the climatic idiosyncrasies create a simply idyllic environment for varieties such as Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Shiraz, Viognier, Chenin as well as a few quirky others…

And thus we kicked-off in the 2004 vintage with the benefit of impeccable, established vineyards and with fruit of a quality and intensity of flavours that blew us away.

In year one, we selected 10 specific vineyards, 6 for our white blend, 4 for the red. Many of these are bush vines and mostly dryland (i.e, no irrigation). The yields, consequently, are very limited –indeed in 2004, the whites averaged about 25 hl / hectare (by comparison, Grand Cru Burgundy can produce +/-40 hl / ha), whilst the reds averaged 32.5 hl / ha. In 2005, a hot vintage, yields were lower still, averaging-out at about 20 hl / ha across red & white. In the subsequent vintages we’ve understood the pattern of yields versus climatic condition and remain astounded by the quality of fruit and the completely individual flavours we manage to extract from this incredible location. Today, we’re producing from about 20 hectares of vines on the Perdeberg and will grow that gently, if we find the right -preferably old- vines in this site to work with. Production will always be very limited; quality is really all we’re interested in.

THE HUMAN INGREDIENT

Barrels ready to receive new wine at Winery of Good Hope

Our belief in this area was stimulated by some of the most passionate wine folk in South Africa, as described above. That endorsement, subsequently fuelled by Alex Dale’s own conversion, dove-tailed so naturally with his own affinities, both taste and experience-wise. Having spent many years educating himself on the wines and the terroirs of the Swartland, Alex was convinced he’d seen a light that would change our entire outlook on the Cape. He also realised that he had the perfect team with which to get stuck in.

Northern Rhone-based Edouard Labeye has to be one of the most broadly experienced individuals in the world with Rhone and Languedoc varieties – working as he does as a vigneron and producer in St. Joseph & Condrieu, whilst at the same time being oenologist and advisor to so many top Estates in both the Rhone valley and across the Languedoc. Coupled with Edouard’s fifteen vintages in South Africa and his understanding and feeling for the wines and the potential of the Cape, Alex’s discovery of the Perdeberg made Edouard smile from ear to ear. Home away from home…! was his immediate reaction. Indeed, the great success of the wines, from of our very first vintage, owes as much to the outstanding fruit as they do to Edouard’s and Alex’s interpretation of it.

Backed by the rest of the Radford Dale team, the Black Rock project was initiated in with a real sense of adventure and excitement. The first wines to be released, from the 2004 vintage, experienced tremendous success and we have been working hard to build on that with each vintage. Working with some tough old varieties like Carignan and Grenache has convinced us of the versatility and outstanding potential of some of the lesser-known areas in the Cape. Just by walking off the beaten path, we have opened-up a huge new horizon for our wines. Which goes to show how much mentality limits us or sets us free.

The human ingredient is always a pivotal factor –although the more you know, the more you realise that nature is the driving force. Perhaps mankind has put himself ahead of nature for too long, evidence of which we see increasingly around the planet. Having discovered the enigmatic terroir of the Perdeberg and having recognised its untamable spirit, we’re content to take a back seat and to allow the character of the wines to guide us."

logo_2Kinnegar Wines was born almost by accident and been growing organically since. 

In 1998, I was in the midde of a  two year diploma course with the London Wine & Spirits Trust when an opportunity came up to visit South Africa's Western Cape.  I was naturally  keen to avail of the opportunity to learn more about viticulture and winemaking in South Africa.

We had an excellent guide who brought us to a number of the Cape's leading estates including Thelema and De Trafford where we had in depth vineyard and cellars tours. At the end of the day, I wanted to take back some of the wonderful wines we had tasted for our own use. It was not possibe to take two or three cases of wine with us on our flight and shipping such a small quantity was more than the cost of wines.  So I had the mad idea of shipping a pallet! Clearly, I had to start selling these wines and so began Kinnegar Wines.  Ashford Castle took many of the wines and continue to list them and newer arrivals ever since. 

About Kinnegar

Kinnegar Wines was born almost by accident and been growing organically since.

In 1998, I was in the midde of a two year diploma course with the London Wine & Spirits Trust when an opportunity came up to visit South Africa's Western Cape. Naturally, I was keen to avail of the opportunity to learn more about viticulture and winemaking in South Africa.

We had an excellent guide who brought us to a number of the Cape's leading estates including Thelema and De Trafford where we had in depth vineyard and cellars tours. At the end of the day, I wanted to take back some of the wonderful wines we had tasted for our own use. It was not possible to take two or three cases of wine with us on our flight and shipping such a small quantity was more than the cost of wines. So I had the mad idea of shipping a pallet! Clearly, I had to start selling these wines and so began Kinnegar Wines. Ashford Castle took many of the wines and continue to list them and newer arrivals ever since.

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