Fryer's Cove delivers on promise of its provenance with Platter 5-Star

Wednesday, 12 December, 2012
Fryer's Cove
Some 3½ hours (300km) north of Cape Town, along an unspoiled wind-swept West Coast coastline, lies Doringbaai, home to a small but hardy fishing community.
Here, on the water’s edge, you will discover a tiny winery housed in a disused crayfish factory, and 6 hectares of vineyards on the edge of the coast at Bamboes Bay just north of Doringbaai.

This is the address of Fryer’s Cove Wines, ‘forged of the earth and tempered by the sea’, this extreme terroir imbuing every bottle of Fryer’s Cove wine. “When you taste Fryer’s Cove wines, it’s a little like sipping the sea – fresh and clean with a just a hint of saltiness”, according to the August issue of SA Country Life.

Fulfilling its undoubted potential, the Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 recently received a 5-Star rating in Platter’s South African Wines 2013.

Fryer’s Cove wine was conceived, as are so many good ideas, around a braai. In 1985, whilst holidaying at Strandfontein, Elsenburg graduate, Wynand Hamman, and brother-in-law, Vredendal farmer Jan Ponk van Zyl, dreamt of planting a vineyard so close to the sea that the vines would synthesise salt, giving new meaning to the wine term minerality. 14 years later their dream came true when their first 3-hectare vineyard was planted at Bamboes Bay, a mere 650m from the icy Atlantic, where the sea-chilled mist zone envelops the vines throughout the year.

Dreams, in reality, have a habit of throwing up stumbling blocks, and coaxing high-quality grapes out of the coastal soil was no exception. The cool climate was perfect, the well-drained soils (upper layer of red sand mixed with seashells and deeper layers of limestone imparting flintiness to the wines) were ideal. But finding a reliable water source posed the biggest challenge. In 1999 Jan Ponk and his farm workers built a 30km pipeline from his Vredendal farm, tapping into the water they receive from the nearby Olifants River Irrigation Scheme, crossing three farms on its meandering way down to the seaside vines. Today the Fryer’s Cove vineyard comprises 4 hectares of sauvignon blanc and 2 hectares of pinot noir grapes.

Initially winemaker and co-owner, Wynand Hamman, made Fryer’s Cove wine in Stellenbosch where he worked at the time. But transporting grapes 350km in the summer heat is not conducive to making crafted wines. So a winery close to the vineyards was the next step. Doringbaai, a fishing village 6km south of the vineyards was chosen for its excellent locality. A derelict crayfish packing shed right at the seaside in the bay proved ideal. Proximity to the Atlantic provided a unique energy-saving cooling system in the winery, using fresh water in a closed pipe system that’s cooled by the icy seawater beneath the pier. Building the winery brought much-needed commercial activity back to a village which had suffered from a declining fishing industry. Only through tourism and alternative commercial ventures do these authentic West Coast fishing villages survive. It’s one of the last outposts where hospitality, fresh crayfish and excellent wines come with the territory. To Fryer’s Cove, it’s a tradition worth saving.

The Fryer’s Cove tasting facility has been the catalyst for the Doringbaai ‘waterfront’, which has created employment for the local community. Fryer’s Cove co-owners have built and equipped a kiosk for members of the local community to run the alfresco Jetty Restaurant next to the tasting room on the wharf. A new era had begun.

The star of Fryer’s Cove Vineyards is naturally the Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011, which was crafted by Wynand Hamman, in Fryer’s Cove’s own winery, with all the love and care worthy of a special wine. “Only Bamboes Bay grapes were used for this stellar 2011 5-star bottling from this consistently excellent producer. Fragrant cool green fruit, layered and restrained, acidity perfectly poised, persistent ‘oystershell’ minerality …lipsmackingly fresh and dry”, as described in the Platter’s 2013 SA Wine Guide. It retails for approximately R120 at specialist wine stores and leading restaurants, nationally. Online purchases at are delivered free of charge within South Africa.

The Fryer’s Cove Tasting Room is now open to the public from Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 17h00 and Saturdays from 10h00 to 17h00.
GPS Coordinates: S31°45'52.89" E18°13'56.23"
Tel:  027 213 2312 | Fax:  027 213 2212 | Cell:  082 800 7367