Making wine at Gabrielskloof: the final instalment

This is the final instalment of my series of reports from 10 days of vintage experience at Gabrielskloof, in Bot River, South Africa. I really enjoyed my time here, came back thinner and stronger, and learned quite a bit from taking a different perspective on winemaking – from behind the scenes. The picture above was […]

The wines of Gabrielskloof, Bot River, South Africa

Gabrielskloof, where I’ve spent the last 10 days working vintage, is a winery on the up.

Bernhard Heyns, owner, Gabrielskloof

It’s owned by Bernhard Heyns. In his previous life, Bernhard’s family owned a brick-manufacturing company, based on a clay quarry that they owned. Then they discovered a coal deposit under the clay. So Bernhard got planning […]

Harvest at Gabrielskloof: managing red wine ferments

Foot treading a whole-bunch ferment to release some juice

I’ve been enjoying working with some of the red wine fermentations this week. Wines are fermented here in two different formats. First, there are the small poly bins which take about a ton and a half of grapes, and which are suitable for small lots, or […]

Harvest at Gabrielskloof: collecting grapes

Driving through the Swartland

The producers working in the Gabrielskloof cellar in Botriver – Peter-Allan Finlayson, Marelise Niemann and John Seccombe – all buy grapes from growers spread across the various Cape wine regions. This means that there’s quite a bit of driving around during vintage time. You need to go to the vineyards to […]

Harvest at Gabrielskloof, pressing Grenache Gris and barrel work

With four different producers working in the same cellar space, there’s always plenty going on at Gabrielskloof, especially because I’m here right in the peak period of harvest. Here are a couple of things I got up to on the same morning. Above we have Marelise Niemann’s Grenache Gris (this will be released under her […]

Harvest at Gabrielskloof: vineyard sampling

One of the most critical decisions at harvest time is when to pick the grapes. Pick too soon or too late and your wine won’t reflect its vineyard origins: you end up with a wine of style. And picking late also results in grapes that need lots of additions in the winery. It’s for this […]

Some lovely South African whites: Crystallum, Gabrielskloof, Momento, Thorne and Daughters

My first night in South Africa began well. I’m staying here 11 days, working vintage in the cellar at Gabrielskloof, a space shared by four of South Africa’s most interesting producers. It should be a fun time. In addition to Gabrielskloof, there’s Crystallum, Thorne and Daughters and Momento. Friday night was intern braai night, and […]

Off to South Africa, drinking a Chenin in the lounge

I’m in the BA lounge, on the way to South Africa. Tried through the wines, and this was the pick of a rather underwhelming bunch. I’m quite tired: I’ve only just got back from New Zealand, and I’ve had a busy few days in London. I shall definitely sleep on the plane.

Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2016 […]

Arcangeli, an exciting new addition to the South African wine scene

Arcangeli is an exciting new addition to the South African wine scene. The home of this project is a farm on Bot River that used to be called Freiteras Vineyards. It was bought a while back by Sandro Arcangeli, who tasked Krige Visser (Mount Abora, La Vierge et al) with making the wines. The property […]

AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen, a thrilling South African Chenin

I’ve spoken of my love of Adi Badenhorst’s Dassiekop before: it’s one of my favourite Chenins. I brought a bottle to New Zealand and shared it with friends. It was lovely.

AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen 2015 Swartland, South Africa
This is thrilling. Powerful and spicy with citrus and pear and white peach. Lovely lemony brightness under the […]