Chenin Blanc Association celebrates venerable Cape vineyards

Monday, 14 December, 2009
Manley Communications
The Cape is blessed with fantastic old blocks of Chenin Blanc - and this is one of those times that old age is better than youth! Vineyard age really adds to the complexity and character of the grapes and in turn of the wines.
Over the last ten months, the Chenin Blanc Association has been on a quest to find the oldest Chenin Blanc plantings in South Africa. Along the way, beautiful gems have been discovered. Ken Forrester, Chairman of the CBA describes the aim: "We set out in January 2009 to look for the oldest Chenin blanc plantings that we could find. We wanted to raise awareness of older Chenin blanc plantings because these awesome vines produce some of the finest Chenins in the world. It is also important to preserve such old blocks, and to give them the respect they deserve - for they may yield less, but the quality is outstanding. Many of our members are now looking for these plantings to incorporate into their wines."

The oldest vineyard that has been recorded belongs to Mrs Anna Kirsten of Westridge (photo included of Mrs Kirsten holding her Chenin Blanc Association Commemorative Certificate). Her Stellenbosch block dates back to the dramatic era of Winston Churchill and Jan Smuts - it was established in 1942. The largest block of vines belongs to well know producer, Kaapzicht, and the smallest to Mrs Kirsten. The average age of the five oldest blocks is 60 years, which is an incredible legacy. All the data for the project was sourced from SAWIS, who monitor South African wine production, to ensure accuracy.

The Chenin Blanc Association plans to bottle wines made from these historic plantings to be sold at an auction in 2010 to raise funds for The Pebbles Project. As Ken Forrester puts it "these vines represent our past and our future. They are testament to the faith shown in them by these producers over the years, they cared for them when many others would have ripped them out, and the exciting new wines that they will produce are undoubtedly going to add massive momentum to the excellent reputation South Africa has for its Chenin blanc".

The Chenin Blanc Association is a grower-based organisation dedicated to the promotion of Chenin blanc to consumers, both locally and abroad. The association represents 90% of the quality Chenin blanc producers in South Africa and seeks to grow consumer awareness of Chenin blanc, highlighting its versatility as a wine, its uniquely food-friendly attributes and its huge contribution to the South Africa wine industry.

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Mrs Anna Kirsten who owns the oldest Chenin Blanc vineyard in South Africa with her certificate
Mrs Anna Kirsten who owns the oldest Chenin Blanc vineyard in South Africa with her certificate

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