Drink to these boutique bottles of bliss
While tasting shirazes and chardonnays in the Ceres Valley in the Western Cape, I wondered how grapes from an area known for the best apple- and pear-growing climate in the country couldbe turned into such good wines.
The Koelfontein Farm's owners, the Conradies, have grown vineyards for generations on just a few hectares of good land, which is too steep for fruit trees.
The farm produces small amounts of exceptional bottled bliss in an area not known for its wines .
I like that Koelfontein has a small output and pays attention to keeping its label special.
There is a growing market for boutique wines. While travelling back to Cape Town from Ceres, I stopped for lunch in Riebeek Kasteel, where there is a wine route of small cellars with boutique labels.
On the Swartland's The Wine Kollective website, I read that if I'd followed the "wine route" sign I would not have found any grand tasting rooms, velvet green lawns with peacocks, ex-model ex-wives or giant Great Danes relieving themselves against transplanted oak trees. Nada, zilch, nothing.
The site says I would have just encountered "cellars small enough for the wine maker to know each and every barrel and tank, modern enough to make the best and being operated by the owners".
This weekend at the Food Wine Design Fair a number of boutique wineries will be selling their products.
Many will showcase artisanal wines, like the ones I tasted in Ceres.
Bartinney wines, for example, are made by Therese de Beer from grapes grown on 17ha on top of Helshoogte, near Stellenbosch.
A slightly larger wine farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Creation Wines, works with nature to produce its bottled wonders.