The Elgin Valley, synonymous with award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals that sing with cool climate melodic notes. Situated about 70 km’s from Cape Town. It’s incredibly easy to drive by if you’re not a local and just take in the scenic drive en route to another nearby town. In case you’re not familiar with South Africa, the Western Cape is a treasure trove of so many wondrous and beautiful wineries, each region takes on a different and own unique typicity of terroir. This fact excites me and could get me reading and listening about wine in a geographical sense for hours! Don’t get me started 🙂
Why Elgin you ask? For our honeymoon, we ended up touring a few of my favourite regions, such as the Walker Bay, Swartland and Bot River regions. So in reliving the magic, we decided on our first anniversary this year, we would explore another favourite, Elgin. The valley of not just cool climate wines, but the home of Appletiser, apples and, who can’t forget Peregrine!
Peregrine (not pictured here) has grown from a deli/farm stall into a tourist attraction for their fresh produce, freshly baked loaves of bread, wine section and restaurant. Outside a small grassy patch with a little park for the kiddies and pooches to be entertained and refreshed. This is one pitstop you cannot miss. Be sure to stock up on lots of delicious freshly pressed apple juice, sourdough, mosbolletjie bread, last but not least, the pies are LEGENDARY!
Our first winery stop, was at Oneric. O N E I R I C; pronounced “Oh! – ne – rik” borrowed from Greek terminology and roughly translated as ‘dream’ is exactly that – a gem nestled in the heart of the cool-climate Elgin Valley. Warmly received and graciously hosted. We found not only the view from the small estate but the Chardonnay quite a dream.
There were so many wineries on my list, and of course this was pre-lockdown, which also meant the valley was mostly empty. There next winery, I am a loyal admirer and consumer of, Elgin Ridge. We were fortunate enough to be hosted for a tasting by the Winemaker himself, Kosie van der Merwe. having been treated to a tasting of their incredibly delicious 2018 vintage 282 Chardonnay via a Coravin! (drools) Any oenophile will know when I say to own a Coravin is a dream indeed. I curiously ask in and out about the difference between organic and biodynamic viticulture, Kosie is visibly passionate about biodyamic viticulture in order to get the best out of the typicity that Elgin Ridge as a farm has to offer it is best to let the wines do the talking with minimal interference.
Today, Elgin Ridge is proudly certified biodynamic by Demeter (since 2016) and certified organic by ECOCERT (since 2012) and CERES, (since 2019). At current they are the only certified organic producer in the Elgin valley and one of just two certified biodynamic producers in the whole of South Africa! Visit purely for their range of gorgeous wines. The 282 Pinot Noir has a bright ruby colour and displays a raspberry and dark cherry fruit core with subtle hints of floral scent. On the palate, the acid adds an uplifting freshness to the cherry fruits and floral scent on the nose. Indulgent, special and one of those wines you open to celebrate something, be it, a celebration of life! The Crunch range, the everyday drinking range, but that’s certainly not to say it lacks in quality and taste. 50% whole bunch natural fermentation and aged for 7 months in concrete egg before bottling. With aromatics of intense raspberries and cranberries that carries over to the pallet with a salinity that leaves your mouth watering for more. The Crunch Sauvignon Blanc is equally delightful too!
Iona wineries was a bit of a trek up a 5km gravel road up alongside the hill that separates the main town from this (at the risk of sounding clichéd) hidden gem. I remember tasting their Sauvignon Blanc at the FNB TOP 10 awards, and was completely blown away, hence my eagerness to visit the estate. Greeted by a very fervent ridgeback pup leading us straight to the small but warm tasting room with a classic car emboldening the space but definitely not taking up space as one would think. The trek to find the winery was well worth it!
In the endeavour to produce a fine glass of wine from this stunning farm, Iona focuses on four quality wines; Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the One Man Band, an estate blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Mourvedré and Viognier.The philosophy at Iona is to make wine that expresses the soils and climate as closely as possible, making use of sustainable farming methods and to maximise the use of natural products in farming and winemaking. Everything is done in-house, from the vineyard to the wine distribution.
Give me a glass of MCC any day and I will be more than content! I’ve heard very good things about this Elgin wine estate and of course needed to see what the fuss was all about. The tasting room dons many a memorabilia from days past from the owners adventures to photos paying homage to working with renowned French winemakers. Originally an apple and pear farm, The Furneaux Farm was purchased by Charles and Zelda Fox in 2005 after an intensive search for terroir that would be perfect conditions for growing chardonnay and pinot noir grapes and producing MCC. I do love a good Brut, the Charles Fox Reserve Brut Rosé was a token of which I decided to bring back home with me.
The weekend we spent wondering and tasting our way through the valley were spent mostly at Elgin Vintners, to which they have a guesthouse with four luxurious suites. We had the entire guest house to ourselves, but stayed in the Browne Suite. The Manor house was built in 1927 to a Sir Herbert Baker design, the Manor House has been restored to its Victorian glory, with all the modern comforts. Accommodating up to 10 guests in luxury suites, the Manor House is child-friendly and gives guests the run of the property, including the swimming pool, tennis court, garden and braai area.
Guests staying at the Elgin Vintners Manor House are offered the following complimentary services:
- Breakfast – a full Continental or hot breakfast on order, complete with coffee & tea
- Complimentary use of the estate’s swimming pool and tennis court
- A complimentary wine tasting of 4 Elgin Vintners wines at the Tasting Room
- Bottled water
- Wireless internet
- Bathroom and swimming towels
There were a few wineries like Almenkerk, Oak Valley and Paul Cluver that were unfortunately closed to visitors at that point before lockdown. But with level 3 in effect and with the hope of the virus coming to an end in the near future, I urge you to please plan your visits to as many of these wineries and perhaps if you can now, please order your favourite wines online from any of these magnificent wineries, in the Elgin region or any other local wine region for that matter.
Start planning your wine adventures, it’s never too late.
Take care and keep safe out there x