Winters Drift Wines open their tasting station in the historic Elgin station building

Winters Drift Wines, rooted in Elgin history, have opened their Tasting Station in the historic Elgin Station on Glen Elgin farm, where Winters Drift Wines are grown. Few wine ranges tell a more captivating story than Winters Drift, the wine brand of Molteno Brothers, bestowing authenticity and integrity to the location of their tasting venue.
The Winters Drift wines, named after the ‘winter ford’ crossing of the Palmiet River, on Glen Elgin, which formed part of the original ox wagon trail through the Overberg, honour the remarkable story and legacy of two pioneering and philanthropic bachelor brothers, Ted and Harry Molteno. These young men purchased Glen Elgin in 1903 and dedicated their lives to transforming Glen Elgin from a modest vegetable farm into a vast fruit-farming enterprise that spanned the valley. On the death of younger brother Harry in 1969, Glen Elgin was bequeathed to the Molteno Brothers Trust, with all profits to be used for the furtherance of ‘educational, cultural and charitable interests’.

In time ‘Elgin’ referred not only to the Molteno brothers’ property, Glen Elgin, but also to the railway station built upon their farm, and soon the entire farming area became known as Elgin. Just as the Molteno brothers’ legacy changed the face of Elgin farming dramatically, so did the railroad and Elgin Station provide the crucial fast route for their produce to the Cape Town market and the growing export trade. This became particularly important for Elgin’s burgeoning deciduous fruit industry.

The original railway line is still active today with sometimes two to three grain-laden trains passing through daily. The Elgin Station building had fallen into disrepair after the 1970s, when road transport sidetracked rail. Molteno Brothers, owners of Winters Drift Wines embarked upon lengthy discussions with Transnet to get permission to renovate the historic station building and open their Tasting Station.

The Tasting Station has faithfully retained the atmosphere of the hustle and bustle of the Elgin Railway Station in its heyday. It has an industrial feel with metal fittings and shades of grey colour theme. The tasting counter is made from Jarrah, the wood used for railway sleepers. The Tasting Station has two rooms: one with the tasting counter and the other the Waiting Room, with comfortable chairs and a fire place, reminiscent of an old-world railway station waiting room. Period pieces adorn the room, including old suit cases, railway benches, clocks, and bell-telephones.

The antique clock, steeped in the history of the Molteno brothers and Glen Elgin farm, and depicted on the wine labels, now passes time in the Tasting Station. Myrna Robins, in a recent article in the Weekend Argus, wrote insightfully, “The antique clock on the labels of Winters Drift wines is more than a symbol of the passage of time. This elegant timepiece, which ticked away the hours for more than 80 years in the Molteno brothers’ farmstead on Glen Elgin, will soon find a new home in the Winters Drift tasting centre on Elgin station. There it will link past to present in a stylish reminder of agricultural success and ongoing philanthropy.”

Winters Drift Wines, launched earlier this year, can be tasted and purchased at the Tasting Station: Winters Drift Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chardonnay 2011, Rosé (100% Merlot) 2011 and Pinot Noir 2011. All the grapes for these wines were grown on Glen Elgin. The white wines and rosé were made by winemaker Kobie Viljoen in the Gabriëlskloof cellar, and the limited release Pinot Noir 2011 was made by Koen Roose of Spioenkop Wines in Elgin. The New Year will see the release of: Winters Drift Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chardonnay 2012, Rosé (100% Merlot) 2012 and Shiraz 2011.

The Winters Drift Tasting Station is situated on the outskirts of Grabouw. Picnics can be booked in advance. Soon a delicatessen will be opening which will sell, in addition to delicious deli items and light lunches, fresh produce and flowers from Glen Elgin Farm, including cut fynbos flowers, potted proteas, honey and fresh fruit, with other local produce to follow.

Winters Drift Tasting Station is open: Tuesday to Friday: 9am - 4pm; Saturday: 10am- 4pm; Sunday: First Sunday of every month; Monday: By appointment only
Contact: Emy Mathews • Tel: 021 859 3354/2527 • Cell: 082 494 1265
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