Malgas Region ImageSijnn is an remarkable vineyard venture in remote Malgas named after by the original Khoisan name of the Breede river along which it lies.  It is set on a stony plateau between Malagas and Cape Infanta approx. 230km east of Cape Town. Together with a few strategic partners, a small run-down ostrich and grain farm was purchased early in 2004 by David & Rita Trafford of De Trafford wines in Stellenbosch.  These vineyards are located 70m above the Breede River, 25 km from the sea by boat and 15 km as the crow flies. At this stage, there are no other vineyards within a 40 km radius, the closest being those inland around Swellendam and along the coast at Elim.

The complex stony soils, together with a warm dry climate (350mm) moderated by the constant sea breezes offer excellent vineyard potential and the possibility of producing something unique. This is quite a pioneering venture and extensive soil studies were undertaken together with analysis of climatic data. With these results, a variety of proven Mediterranean or southern European varieties have been planted, including Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Trincadeira together with future plantings of Grenache. Chenin Blanc and Viognier were planted for a white wine blend together with more recent plantings of Rousanne and plans for Assyrtiko.

Swartland VineyardsUp in the mountains north of Cape Town, the revolutionaries are massing. This is the Swartland – ''the black land’’ – a place of big skies, where wheat fields blaze, grey-barked renosterbos (''rhinoceros bush’’) grows in abundance and the landscape is chequered with vineyards.

When it comes to wine, nowhere in South Africa is as exciting as Swartland right now. This place feels like frontier country. The vineyards aren’t new – many of them were planted decades ago – but traditionally it was the grain crop they took seriously here. Grapes were trucked into the nearest co-op and lost in a tidal wave of mediocrity. Now a new generation of winemakers is hunting out those precious parcels of gnarled old vines – they produce more intensely flavoured grapes – and making wine that everyone is talking about.

It all started in the late Nineties when Charles Back, already the owner of an estate in Paarl, bought a small farm near Malmesbury, put in a winemaker called Eben Sadie, and began making wines under the Spice Route label but operating independently since 2001.  

Elim, meaning place of God, is located close to Cape Agulhas where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the most southern tip of Africa. It is a small and relatively new wine area with a very cool climate. Situated 20 kilometers from Agulhas - the southern most tip of Africa and where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, vines were first planted here over 100 years ago for altar wine but this gradually ceased until viticulture was resumed in 1997.

Apart from the cooling effect of the maritime location, the winds play a big role here and keeps growth in check allowing the vines to concentrate their efforts on packing flavour from the soil into its grapes. It is especially suited to Sauvignon Blanc where some stunning examples are made and is the most widely grown varietal with Semillon and Shiraz showing promise.

The picturesque village of Elim, a Moravian missionary settlement founded in 1824 is itself  a national monument.

Elgin, which is about an hours drive from Cape Town across Sir Lowry's Pass is considered one of the coolest wine growing areas in the Cape. This is partly due to its higher altitude and it is also close to the sea. However, the same 'table cloth' of cloud that frequently covers Table Mountain can also cover the Elgin vineyards cooling them further. The result here from the slower ripening grapes is considerable depth of flavours with minerality and an overall balance and elegance. Several vineyards are based here while others wineries, based in warmer Stellenbosch, are planting now in this cooler climate.

Stellenbosch Wine RegionStellenbosch is probably the most famous and widely know wine area in the Cape. It was founded in 1769 by Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the Cape and he called it after himself - Stel's forest.

The historical town , which features some of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture, boasts a winemaking tradition which stretches back to the end of the 17th-century. The mountainous terrain, good rainfall, deep well-drained soils and diversity of terroirs make this a sought-after viticultural area. The rapidly increasing number of wine estates and producers (in excess of 160) includes some of the most famous names in Cape wine. The district, with its mix of historic estates and contemporary wineries, produces excellent examples of almost all the noble grape varieties and is known for the quality of its blended reds.

Huguenot Monument, FranschhoekFranschhoek lies in a contained valley, a pretty town founded by the French Huguenots in 1688. Today it is very much a region of boutique wineries with old buildings and small producers. Stylish cellars include La Motte, Cabrière, Plaisir de Merle and Boekenhoutskloof.  The Franschhoek Wine Route Tram came into being in 2012 using tracks originally laid down in 1904. It operates on a hop-on-hop-off basis along a variery of routes each stopping at a wide range of wine estates for wine tastings, picnics or lunch. Certainly makes for a fun day out. 

Perhaps the most amazing wine tasting experience in the Cape is at  The Wine Studio at Leeu Estates where one can experience amazing wines made by Chris and Andrea Mullineux in extraordinarily beautiful surroundings - this really is very special.

The village of Franschhoek mainly consists of one long street lined with art galleries, fine craft shops, trendy cafés and some very smart restaurants.  Le Quartier Francais, with world famous chef Margot Janse, has long been one of the best restaurants in South Africa. When Margot retired, La Petite Colombe took over this space last year under the guidance of Scot Kirton, legendary chef-restaurateur at Constantia's La Colombe famed establishment. Along with Maison, Dubliner Liam Tomlin's latest opening, Franschhoek continues it's great culinary traditon in this long established wine valley.



Constantia is the historic hub of Cape wine. Closest to Cape Town, it boasts some of the most famous estate names such as Groot and Klein Constantia, and Buitenverwachting. On premium terroir and in ideal climatic conditions, superb sauvignon blanc and semillon wines are produced.


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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