Renaissance for Far Horizons Voor-Paardeberg Wine Estate

Friday, 9 November, 2012
Paula Wilson Media
Rugby, sports tourism and history are the unusual confluence of factors in a R40-million Irish-South African collaboration resulting in a new landmark wine estate project to trade under the name Doran Vineyards on the farm Far Horizons in the Voor-Paardeberg area of the Western Cape.
Sports tourism specialist and wine connoisseur, Irishman Edwin Doran and his long-time friend, Constantia wine route pioneer Andre Badenhorst have joined forces in what they lightly term ‘two old buggers having fun’. But the new venture, 15km from Wellington and 40km from Riebeek Kasteel, is by no means a whimsical escapade.

It is founded on Doran’s commitment to premier wines and Badenhorst’s intimate knowledge and leading role in the Cape wine industry on historic Constantia estates, Buitenverwachting and Constantia Uitsig, over more than three decades. The culture has passed to a second generation with his son Adi Badenhorst now one of the most successful winemakers and estate owners in the Swartland district, and an internationally known wine personality.

Doran’s passion for wine was vested in his collection of Bordeaux’s Premier Grand Cru Classe wines he acquired en primeur. It was his sale of this collection that funded the building of a cellar to receive, ferment and mature the new premium wines that will be produced on the estate.

The new cellar, which was created out of the former milking shed on the farm, now holds the estate-produced Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre and Chenin Blanc in various-sized barrels. Previously, all the estate’s wines were made in a cellar in Wellington.

The two met in the early ‘90s through a sports tour organized by Doran’s international tour operation for Wynberg Boys High School where Badenhorst was Governing Body chairman, and his younger son Charl was rugby captain at the time.

Their mutual love of sport and wine were the common threads that led to the more than 20-year friendship.

‘When Edwin sold his company he said he wanted to realise his dream of a wine farm in South Africa so we went about finding one,’ said Badenhorst. ‘My son Adi has a successful wine farm, Kalmoesfontein in the Paardeberg, Swartland district, and he recommended this area. We eventually found Far Horizons, which at 179ha was bigger than we were looking for, but proved to be a good decision.’

Less than one third of the farm is under irrigated vineyards while the rest is used for cultivating oats and lucern. Badenhorst has also realised one of his ambitions, to have a flock of Ile de France sheep and a herd of Angus cattle.

The partners have appointed accomplished young South African winemaker Martin Lamprecht to the team. Lamprecht refined his skills at the well-respected Cederberg Cellars on the farm Dwarsrivier, and while working there, also spent time in the Rhône wine region in Southern France, gaining invaluable experience with varietals that are highly suited to the Voor Paardeberg.

Since the acquisition of the farm in 2010, a great deal of renovation and restoration has been done, including the architectural restyling of the buildings, construction of staff houses, the creation of the cellar and replacement of the Smart Dyson trellising system with the Perold system. Their plan for the estate is to plant Chenin Blanc as well as white Rhône varietals such as Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. In addition, red Rhône varietals such as Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre will be planted to complement existing plantings of the Shiraz. Other red varietals presently on the farm include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinotage.

Currently the estate wines are marketed under Horse Mountain label, which will be the “second label” of the farm offering a Chenin Blanc Voignier, a Pinotage, a Shiraz and a Bordeaux Blend, named Michele.
Andre Badenhorst & Edwin Doran of Doran Vineyards
Andre Badenhorst & Edwin Doran of Doran Vineyards

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