A castle, complete with cannons, in the Winelands?

Friday, 23 January, 2004
David Fair
Sentinel Vineyards comes home
Sentinel might well be the most easily recognisable vineyard in the Stellenbosch region. After all, it is hard to miss an enormous medieval-style castle, built in the last century (1997 to be precise), and defended by Africa’s most diverse collection of private cannons.

The relationship between Sentinel Vineyards and Sentinel Wines goes back several years – the grapes from these vineyards have long been used in the production of our wines. However as Sentinel wines grew in stature both on the international and local markets, it made sense to acquire some of the vineyards from which we were sourcing our grapes.

Of the various sites, this particular vineyard was deemed by wine expert Walter Finlayson to be one of the best in Stellenbosch. The reason for this is that the soil is ideal for top quality grapes, and in addition, the aspect of the slopes picks up the gentle breeze coming in over False Bay. Viticulturally, this land is as good as you will find in Stellenbosch.

Right now, all we have in place is a tasting room and visitor’s facility, where you can experience and learn more about the Sentinel range of wines. A small restaurant will be operational by March. We are also hard at work in the vineyards, matching site to varietal, so that by early next year, we will have another set of vineyards planted and on the road to production. At the same time, we will build a very small wine cellar to process only the grapes grown on this property.

The Castle
The next question everyone has is ‘the castle’ – how did it get here, what is it’s significance and history, and how does it fit into Stellenbosch?

While the previous owner of Sentinel Vineyards produced some fine grapes, these were never for use in the making of his own wine. He instead produced top-quality furniture from railway sleepers, in the shed that lies behind the tasting room.

However, in previous generations, his family had owned a castle in England, so one day he decided to replicate this in some form right here in Stellenbosch. As simple as that!

And what would a castle be without cannons? Sentinel is well guarded by Africa’s largest private collection of antique cannons, several of which are listed as National Monuments. The majority of Sentinel Vineyard’s 18 cannons date from the 17th century and were salvaged from shipwrecks off the South African coast. Each one has a fascinating story to tell and, in their prime, played diverse roles from noon-gun signal to pirate weapon.

Yet despite the cannons and the looming ramparts, Sentinel is a friendly place to visit for the whole family. The views from the top of the castle are breathtaking, and while you enjoy our wines the children can explore the cannons – this is one museum where you are encouraged to touch the exhibits! We look forward to seeing you soon.

Situated on the R44, 12km from the N1. Tasting room telephone: +27 (0) 21 889-5050

Issued by: David Fair for Sentinel Vineyards
Contact: Charles Withington, Sentinel Vineyards
Tel: +27 (0) 83 564 6616
Email: charles@sentinel.co.za
Website: www.sentinel.co.za

David Fair
Tel: +27 (0) 83 499 6920
Email: davefair@mail.com