Welcome to the Stanford Wine Valley
Originally published in Livingspace magazine
As far as weekend-getaway destinations go, the truly charming little village of Stanford in the Overberg has long been gaining in popularity. Only 15 minutes from the busier seaside town of Hermanus, Stanford’s restored Victorian cottages, mountain views and slow pace have endeared it to many a visitor. With the creation of the Stanford Wine Route late last year, it now has even more to offer.
Only 65 km as the crow flies from the southernmost tip of Africa, Stanford is one of South Africa’s coolest regions of wine production. Washed over by strong maritime winds in summer, grapes ripen slowly, resulting in fruit – and later, wine – bursting with flavour. Like the rest of the Overberg wine region, Stanford enjoys a diverse landscape, resulting in varying terroir, from sandy slopes and granite to pure limestone soil.
MISTY MOUNTAINS ESTATE
With its very first vintage in 2008, Misty Mountains is a pretty young wine producer, but one to watch; its Sauvignon Blancs have sported various award stickers over the past few years. Lovers of Shiraz will find a good fix here too, and a section of the 46 ha estate is being prepared for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so we are crossing our fingers for a fine MCC.
When you leave, make sure your boot is filled not only with wine, but fresh olives, bottled water from the mountain spring that flows on the property, and vincotto, a syrupy wine reduction good with cheese or Italian cooking.
Stock your cellar Misty Mountains Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015, R80
The pure limestone soil at Springfontein, combined with Stanford’s climate, means vineyard conditions are similar to those of Champagne – and winemaker Tariro Masayiti is all about taking advantage of the gifts of nature. Proudly South African cultivars take pride of place here in the form of their flagship couple: the creamy Jil’s Dune Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc and the full-bodied Jonathan’s Ridge Single Vineyard Pinotage.
Set aside time to visit Springfontein Eats – Chef Jürgen Schneider held a Michelin star at his restaurant in Germany for many years before relocating to SA.
Stock your cellar Jil’s Dune Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2013, R275
SIR ROBERT STANFORD
Named after the same historical landowner as the village itself, this estate’s winemaking heritage goes back to 1890. The terroir here is different again, with granite soil giving rise to fruity wines with good minerality. Taste them at the wine shop or pair a few glasses with the generous country fare at The Royal Oke. Oh, and don’t miss out on tasting owner Jan Malan’s grappa either.
The eco-friendly farming approach undertaken at Sir Robert Stanford has seen them awarded Champion status by the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.
Stock your cellar Cutter’s Cove Shiraz Viognier 2015, R65
If you have kids in tow, this family-friendly farm should move to the top of your list – the little ones can expend their energy between the rolling lawns, a jungle gym and canoes on the dam. Meanwhile, you can get down to the important business of wine tasting.
Owner and winemaker Peter Kastner is known for his well-balanced Pinotage, which is grown in clay and laterite soil, but Stanford Hills is another wine estate looking forward to its maiden MCC this year. Look out for the Veldfire range too, named after a naturally occurring protea hybrid that grows in abundance here.
Stock your cellar Jacksons Pinotage 2013, R95
WALKER BAY VINEYARDS AND BIRKENHEAD BREWERY
Beer and wine lovers find themselves equally catered to at this estate. Wooded and unwooded Chardonnay take first place in the wine line-up, but be sure to also try the fruit-driven, vintage red blend Amasteca.
And no one will look askance at you for pairing lunch or even breakfast with a beer tasting at The Birkenhead Galley restaurant. The excellent range offers options to suit most beer connoisseurs, from premium lager to the malty Laughing Croc ale, and even a chocolate stout.
Stock your cellar Walker Bay Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, R65
The smallest of the Stanfordian estates, Vaalvlei produces only Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, as well as a Cape Vintage Port-style wine.
Keen conservationists will spot the endangered Western leopard toad on their labels, and indeed amphibians are something of a passion for owner Naas Terblanche, who is a fount of knowledge about the 12 species he has identified on the farm. Fly-fishing is another Vaalvlei drawcard, as are Elsabe Terblanche’s bonsai, which are for sale.
Stock your cellar Vaalvlei Shiraz 2014, R70
When Piet Dreyer hung up his fisherman’s hat in favour of wine farming in 2002, he brought a little of his old life with him – the estate is named after his old squid vessel, Raka.
Situated in a mountain valley with the Klein River running through the property, Raka has enviably diverse soil types and altitudes. Its 68 ha are planted to a range of cultivars, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Pinotage, Sangiovese, Viognier, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc.
Stock your cellar Raka Biography Shiraz 2012, R120
Boschrivier stretches across the farms Boschkloof and Remhoogte at the foot of the Akkedisberg. The first vines were planted in its shale soils in ’98, and today it has a reputation for producing small quantities of award-winning Shiraz (as well as rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and Cab Sauv). Keep an eye out for the blue crane, our national bird, on the property.
Stock your cellar Boschrivier Shiraz 2013, R120