Wellington: The Road Less Travelled

Monday, 27 June, 2016
Tshepang Molisana
Wellington is home to Sedgewick’s, the largest Whiskey distiller in South Africa. The Valley is located roughly 45 kilometres from the blinding bustle of Cape Town, and about 40 kilometres from Franschhoek’s gourmet delights.

There is a pleasant honesty and a rustic charm that greets visitors as they enter the town, and the milieu remains in your memory long after you’ve packed cases of wine into your car and headed back towards the bustle. Wellington lays claim to a complex history, unspoilt natural views, luxurious accommodation, passionate people farm-fresh food and award winning wines. Wellington is an unvacillating valley of variety.
Wellington offers a generous array of accommodation, farm to table cuisine and it is a wine lover’s delight. Below, we’ve shared a few wonderful wine experiences although, Wellington, the valley of variety offers many more.

WoW: Wines of Wellington

Wellington is home to over 85% of South Africa’s rootstock, and it is for this reason that it is colloquially referred to as ‘the cradle’.

The Mutual & Federal Wellington Agri Wine Route was declared a separate wine district on March 16, 2012. This allows produces to label their libations ‘Wines of Wellington’, or Wow. This distinction enables the valley’s produces to introduce their specific terroir based wards to discerning consumers.

Marko Roux, is a passionate young Viticulturist at Wellington Wines. Founded in 1907, Wellington Wines is the second oldest co-operative winery in South Africa and produces wines from 97 farms in the valley. Marko was raised on a farm near Bonnievale, and it was this experience that inspired him to pursue a degree in Soil Science and Viticulture from The University of Stellenbosch. Wellington’s two major lifelines are the Krom Rivier and Berg River, the primary source of water for the farmers who grow and cultivate their fruits in collaboration with Wellington Wines. Farmers, who we were told, are real people, “who still prefer their correspondence faxed and not emailed.”

Because of the winemaking team’s intimate knowledge of the soils, sunshine and topography of almost 100 farms, Wellington Wines has produced a unique cache of wines that are reflective of their terroir and location. Marko believes that “Wellington Wines are both a tribute to and a brand ambassador of the region.”

Wellington Wines produces the Thomas Kipling Range, which is available exclusively at Pick ‘n Pay. In acknowledgement of the Bovlei cellar’s location, just below Bain’s Kloof Pass, the cellar produces Bovlei Cellar Wines, available locally, and Bain’s Way, an export quality wine. The W Range, is a smooth, easy-drinking range, available from the Bovlei Cellar, where the Wellington Wines tasting room is located. Guests can drink in the Hawequa Mountain range and a glass of W Chardonnay from the tasting room. The diamond in Wellington Wines’ crown is their La Cave range, meticulously selected from the best vineyard blocks and aged in French Oak Barrels. The 2013 La Cave Cape Blend responded well to Wellington’s extreme heat. The explosion of black pepper is well tempered by the Grenache that tapers into a seamlessly smooth finish.

Doolhof Estate is located between Bain’s Kloof and the Groenberg Mountain Range. As a result the soils are finer, more balanced and deeper than in the surrounding countryside with clay content evenly distributed. The wines produced at Doolhof by winemaker, Gielie Beukes have the finish of a premium product, but are easy and light on the palate. The winemaker’s single vineyard Signatures of Doolhof Pinotage, is richly coloured and delightfully fragrant. It reflects as well on the vineyards and soils as the Doolhof Unwooded 2015 Chardonnay and the 2014 Malbec. Doolhof, by definition means ‘labyrinth’, this labyrinthine topography is put to use in the placement of Doolhof’s vineyards, optimising the many micro-climates and terroirs which are ultimately expressed in the Doolhof Estate wines..

Women of Wellington

If Wellington is the heart of South Africa’s wines, then Tanie Elsabe, the matriarch at Imbuko wines, is the heart of Wellington.

Tanie Elsabe has produced a Pinotage Relish as well as a Pinotage Reduction that will reduce you to tears of joy. Her sense of humour and sense of understanding of the fragrant Buchu herb charm Imbuko tasting room guests, and guests who take part in wellington Wine Walks.

The Imbuko tasting room offers a Gourmet Wine and Pie tasting, accompanied by Tanie Elsabe’s delicious relish. Four pies, sourced from Pistachio’s, in Paarl are artfully paired with 4 wines from Imbuko’s Van Zijl Family Wine Range. The flight begins with a Cape Malay Chicken Curry pie, which brings out the apricot in the Chardonnay/Viognier. A Lamb Curry Pie is paired with the 2015 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards, Gold award winning Cabernet Sauvignon. Wellington is well known for its Pinotage and the Van Zijl Pinotage, paired wiyj Slow Roasted Venison Pie does not disappoint. To round off the tasting, a Biltong Pie is paired with Van Zijl Shiraz-Mourverdre, declared a 2016 John Platter Hidden Gem.

While Imbuko may be home to Wellington’s Park Run, visitors to Wellington should run, not walk to Bosman Wines which shares its gifts of history, heritage and sustainability with wine lovers.

The family’s first ancestor, Hermanus Bosman, lived by the motto of the family crest: ‘faith, hope and love.’ Today, his descendants run an admirable Fairtrade certified project. Many of the 260 full-time workers on the estate are 5th generation families that have as deep a passion for winemaking as the Bosmans themselves. With an ownership of a full 26% of the business, the Adama Workers Trust ensures a solid skills transfer system and numerous social projects. The hands that make and grow the wine are invested in every aspect of Bosman Family Vineyards. Bosman Family Vineyards still continues the time honoured tradition of vine-grafting, or ‘stokkies draai’.

Corlea Fourie, the Bosman Wines Head of Wine and Viticulture has produced wine on the farm since 2006. There is evident faith, hope and love in Bosman Wines Adama Red 2015 is a complex blend of Shiraz, Cinsaut, Grenache Noir, Nero d`Avola, Mourvedre, Primitivo, Viognier – a true mouthful. Nero is a Sicilian grape, and was introduced to South Africa by Bosman Wines under quarantine. Tasted separately, the 2014 Nero d’Avola is a true gift, grown in Wellington. Released just in time for winter, ‘the black grape of Avola’ has bold black fruit flavours that blend favaourably with the other varietals in the Adama.

The wines produced at Bosman wines reveal a deep-barrelled love for food, wine and the people who drink and make them.

Wellington’s Winelands Accommodation

Dunstone Country House has left no pillow unturned to accommodate guests. Luxurious 4 Star Accomodation, situated in the family’s vineyards awaits guests who visit Dunstone.

From claw baths and fluffy robes in The Manor House, to a private-heated swimming pool at the Guava Cottage, every element of relaxation is catered to. A short stroll through the vineyards and a fragrant guava grove delivers guests to Dunstone’s bistro, The Stone Kitchen.

Neil Marais produces wine at the Boutique Vineyard at Dunstone. Neil believes that wine is produced in the vineyard, and produces single vineyard Shiraz, Rose and Merlot. To combat the heat, the winemaker turns to early morning picking and produces high quality, high character wines. Even the two basket presses in the bistro are put to work. Dunstone Winery made Wellington history by achieving a 5 star Platter for the 2008 Shiraz.

Wellington What to Do

Diemersfontein’s winemaker, Francois Roode has been experimenting with cubes in the cellar. His innovative pursuits are at the core of why Diemersfontein Coffee Chocolate Pinotage and the Pinotage on Tap festival are loved, nationwide. Diemersfontein is wholly committed to producing ‘Wines of Wellington’. Approximately 70% of Diemersfontein’s grapes are grown on the Estate and the remainder of the grapes are sourced from other Wellington vineyards. All visitors to Wellington are encouraged to stop by Season’s Restaurant, year round, and experience a tasting of the Thokozani (Fairtade) range.

Two Stages of the ABSA Cape Epic take place in Wellington. The Valley is home to many adventure al thrill seekers. Many guests enjoy the scenic tour as they cycle through the valley throughout the year. Others choose to walk, at a three or four day leisurely pace through natural fynbos and through vineyards and orange groves, with local tour guides Wellington Wine Walk.

Viking Adventures guides guests through the Bain’s Kloof Pass, a protected area in an Angolan-war era unimog. Guests are invited to pack a WoW (Wines of Wellington) box with local wines and treats for a picnic to be enjoyed on a hill, high above the Valley of the Wagon Wheel Makers. Suggestions for picnic boxes include Klein Doolhof’s excellent Grenache and Linton Park’s Café Cabernet Sauvignon. Safari Dried Fruit is produced in Wellington, and fruit rolls above the valley are a welcome delight. Olives, olive oil and relish grown by The Olive Factory on the nearby Dal Rivier Farm make great accompaniments to a picnic box, or are lovely gifts to take home in preservation of Wellington and her memory.

Wineland Vitamins packages curates and packages experiences in Wellington and the surrounds for groups of 8-10. Contact packages@winelandvitamins.co.za to book your Wellington’s hidden treasures and less travelled roads.

Trudie Webb

Trudie joined wine.co.za in 2016. She comes from an academic background and took on the Content Editing role with such aplomb that she was appointed to the Wine News Editor & Social Media Management role. She has a weak spot for good Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is a sucker for a pretty label and  has a love for the interesting stories behind the wines and the people who make them.
 
Bosman Wines
Bosman Wines

Welvanpas to Doolhof Wine Walk
Welvanpas to Doolhof Wine Walk

Doolhof
Doolhof

Bovlei Cellar
Bovlei Cellar

Imbuko Family Wines
Imbuko Family Wines

Diemersfontein
Diemersfontein

Dunstone
Dunstone

Welvanpas to Doolhof Wine Walk
Welvanpas to Doolhof Wine Walk

Imbuko Family Wines
Imbuko Family Wines

Bosman Wines
Bosman Wines

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