From farmer, to sailor, to winemaker!

Monday, 26 April, 2004
David Manley Jordan
After a year of searching we happily settled for Tulbagh
I had farmed in the Eastern Free State and, after 15 years of sailing the high seas together, Esther (being a Cape Town girl) and I faced the dilemma of where to put down roots back in South Africa.

After a year of searching we happily settled for Tulbagh – close enough to Cape Town but still able to satisfy my love of farming.

After two seasons on a large fruit farm, which was a little more intense than we had in mind, the opportunity to buy Hunters Retreat presented itself. We grabbed it with both hands, it being exactly the sort of potential we were looking for. Within a few years we had upgraded the guest house facilities, built a dam and started planting vines.

The first two crops we harvested from the new vines were sold to three private cellars, all of whom made award-winning wines from our grapes. This was largely responsible for my, at age 60, making the decision to build my own cellar and make my own wines.

Manley Private Cellar on the farm Hunters Retreat is now a registered estate with 3 hectares Shiraz, 1 hectare Pinotage, 1 hectare Merlot, 2  hectares Cabernet Sauvignon and 1½ hectares of Mouvedre & Cabernet Franc for blending. A further 1 hectare is to be planted this winter.

With a little vision and innovation, existing dairy and horse stables (with ½ metre thick walls and oregan ceilings) were converted to the barrel maturation cellar and a fermentation room was added on. We made a modest start in 2002 with 400 bottles each of Pinotage and Shiraz. In 2003 we made about ½ of our crop into wine and this year all of it.

Next season we will be in full production, plus/minus 50 tons or 40,000 bottles. Last year we decided to test the quality of what we had produced by submitting what was available in competitions.

We entered the 2002 Shiraz & Pinotage in the Platter Guide and received 4 and 3½-stars respectively. At the Paarl Young Wine Show we entered our 2003 Merlot, 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot.

The merlot won a Gold medal and Best in Class and Best Wooded Red Wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon got a Silver and the blend a Bronze. It appeared that we were on the right track, 5 wines submitted, 5 awards received. This year we plan to enter many more competitions and hope to maintain the good record. All 2004 vintage is in the barrels and looks like the best we’ve made so far.

Issued by: David Manley Jordan, Manley Private Cellar
Tel: +27 (0) 23 230-0582