Wine Tours & Wineries of Hermanus, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
In addition you can also visit Wineries with pretty old Dutch buildings, set in fantastic scenery and we can even pair Wine tastings with canapes, olives, olive oil, olive pastes, chocolates, meats and fruits.
So please contact us to book your Wine Tour and obtain loads more information about Wine Tours of Hermanus, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Cape Town wine regions. The Google Map below shows the vast majority of the Wine regions that you can visit on a Wine Tour day trip/s.
WINE TOURS of Hermanus and the Cape Winelands -
For the 6th year in a row, we are honoured that the influential John Platter Wine book of South Africa, has listed us, as 1 of ONLY 2 Wine Tour Guides in Hermanus that John Platter recommends; check us out on page 602 of the new 2017 book - or by checking out John Platters website - http://www.wineonaplatter.com/blog/page/1219
2017 - Hermanus Wine & Food Festival -
11th & 12th AUGUST - full details to be announced
The first ever wines made in the world originally came from Persia in 8000BC.
In 1652 Jan Van Riebeek landed at Cape Town; on 2 February 1659 he recorded in his diary “...Today, praise be to God, wine was pressed from Cape grapes for the first time…” This declaration placed South Africa as the 11th country to cultivate the vine, following just behind the USA and California’s initial grape crops in 1600.
Jan van Riebeek, the first commander of the Cape and formerly a ship’s surgeon, cleverly convinced his skeptical employers – The Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) – that the Cape would be ideal for growing grapes, as he believed wine held medicinal properties for treating scurvy, a common affliction amongst his sailors.
This first wine was French Muscadel, (Muscat de Frontignan) with a modest 15 litres being produced, which was made from the first three vines brought to the Cape from Spain.
Simon van der Stel, who became governor of the Cape in 1679, was also an enthusiastic winemaker. He encouraged the planting of vines and taught early settlers the art of wine making. He is now called the “Father of Wines” and was the founder of the Groot Constantia wine farm, as well as helping to establish another important wine area - Stellenbosch, which was named after him.
His son Willem Adriaen van der Stel succeeded his father as governor of the Cape in 1699, was also passionate about horticulture and agriculture and started Vergelegen winery - the well-known wine farm which was the origin of the present town of Somerset West.
Persecuted French Protestants (Huguenots) immigrated to Cape Town in 1688 and imported their savior-faire of grape growing for wine-making and were given land in the Franschhoek area to cultivate wines. In less than 2 decades after its settlement, this area became the foremost wine producing area of the Cape of Good Hope.
Klein Constantia is today producing a very good wine called Vin de Constance (the first major wine export back to Europe) which is actually Nelson Mandela’s favorite wine. Today, the Constantia Wine route includes: Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Uitsig, High Constantia and Steenberg.
In 1885, a root louse, Phylloxera vastatrix, which survives on the roots and leaves of the vines, infested the Cape vineyards. The cure, Vitis vinifera which is resistant to Phylloxera, came from Europe. As a result of this disease, whole vineyards had to be completely replanted. From 1859 to 1862 the wine industry was stricken with another major epidemic of vineyard disease, Oidium (powdery mildew) which ravaged the bulk of the wine crop. It took 15 years to re-establish the Cape vineyards and by 1904 the number of vines had increased to 78 million.
To moderate the problem of over-production, an establishment of co-operative wineries was formed in 1918, known as KWV (Dutch for - Co-operative Wine Growers Association). The objectives of KWV were to direct, control and regulate the sale and disposal of its members produce. Also to ensure that all wine farmers became members of KWV and to solve the problem of instability. It would then act as a spokesperson, adviser, producer and marketing innovator to the South African wine industry.
Today KWV represents about 5,000 wine grape growers and offers their members a number of services to ensure the optimum use of their annual harvest. KWV is also known for its high quality red wines and Brandies.
The first major Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deal in South African’s wine industry happened through KWV Limited, the holding company of KWV International, with an announcement in mid-June 2004 that it had entered into an agreement with Phetogo Investments, a black economic empowerment consortium, for the latter to acquire a 25.1% stake in KWV Limited.
GRAPE TYPES –
South Africa has over 100,000 hectares under vine, which stretches over an area of 800 kms in length, with about 60% of the crop going into wine production. In 2005 there were 4,406 primary producers, 561 wine cellars, 477 private cellars, 66 co-operatives and 18 producing wholesalers. 48% of cellars crush fewer than 100 tons each.
There are well over 1,000 different wine labels / names, which can mean that annually there are literally 1,000’s of new wines and vintages on the market each year. For example in 2005 there were over 5400 / in 2012 it was 7000.
WHITE WINES –
Regarding white grape varieties, Chenin Blanc (also known as Steen) is the most widely planted grape variety in South Africa, comprising 19% of the vineyard. Also planted are Colombard (11%), Sauvignon Blanc (7%), and Chardonnay (7%), Hanepoot (Muscat d’Alexandrie), Rhine Riesling and Semillon.
RED WINES –
Regarding red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon comprises over 10% of the vineyard, Shiraz (9%), Merlot (7%), Pinotage (6%), Cinsaut (3%), Pinot Noir, Ruby Cabernet, Tinta Barocca and Pontac.
Unique to South Africa is the Pinotage variety, a light and delightful red wine, which is a crossing of Hermitage and Pinot Noir vines. Professor Izak Perold experimented with the crossing of these vines in 1925 and produced the first Pinotage specimens.
The Elsenburg estate was the site for the first experimental vineyard of Pinotage. Lecturer CT de Waal is credited with making the first Pinotage wine in small casks at Elsenburg in 1941. The farm of Myrtle Grove, near Sir Lowry's Pass will go down in history as the place where the first commercial planting of Pinotage was made. The first real recognition came in 1959 when a Bellevue red wine made from Pinotage was designated the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show. This feat was repeated in 1961 by a Pinotage from Kanonkop Estate. Stellenbosch Farmer's Winery (SFW) was first to use the name Pinotage on a label when, in 1961, they marketed the 1959 champion Pinotage wine, from Bellevue Estate, under the Lanzerac brand.
MARKET FORCES –
Unlike California, South African wineries are not taxed for each year that the wines are held for maturation, either in the barrel or the bottle. This affords a later release, offering a more mature wine at a less expensive price. The U.S. Dollar has appreciated considerably against the South African Rand during the last few years, giving the American consumer a significant price break as well.
During apartheid, South African wines sales were drastically affected by economic sanctions levied in the early 1980’s by the U.S. government. During this time, South Africa focused on the European markets, where they are today in high demand. With the removal of sanctions in 1993, South African wines saw a resurgence in popularity, re-opening the US market to the unique and highly reputable wines of South Africa.
The Cape wine scene has come into its own in the last decade. Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 impacted positively & strongly on the South African Wine Industry and on the acceptability of South African wines in the international arena. Cape wines became the “flavour of the month” in the United Kingdom and exports soared from less than 1 million cases of wine in 1990, to well over 11 million cases in 1996. Exports of natural (i.e. non-fortified) bottled wines for the 2003 calendar year reached 237.3 million litres, an increase of 10% on the previous year. While in 2012 it was 400 million litres exported. Red wine exports grew by 13% to account for 45% of all natural wines exported. Varietals which showed the most export growth of bottled wines during 2003 compared to the previous year were - Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The local wine industry as a whole is strengthening its focus on 5 noble varietals and is primarily replanting, on a large scale - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In line with shifting market demands and the growth of red wine consumption, the industry rapidly increased its plantings of red wine varietals, which in 2000 and 2001 constituted over 80% of all new plantings. This fell to 65% in 2002 and to 51% in 2003.
EMPLOYMENT & GDP –
The South African wine industry is an increasingly important player in the national economy and has been confirmed by a recent study that has pegged the industry's contribution to the country's GDP at over R30 billion annually, equal to 2.2% of the country's GDP - Wine Tours and related tourism generates R4 billion per year, relative to South Africa's total GDP of well over R1.8 trillion.
It also found that the South African wine industry provided direct and indirect employment opportunities for some 260,000 people in various sectors ranging from primary agriculture to cellars, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, as well as tourism.
The Wine Industry is not only a major player in the South African economy in terms of its contribution to GDP and employment, but is also one of the country's strongest growth industries.
The Wine Industry contributes 9.7% to the Western Cape Province’s GDP. This also concluded that of the R14.6 billion contributed by the wine industry to the regional economy, some R3.5 billion was generated indirectly through wine-tourism activities centered in the Western Cape Winelands.
In terms of world wine production, South Africa currently ranks as 8th in volume production of wine and produces 3.1% of the worlds wine. Of the country’s total annual harvest of 956 million litres in 2003 - 75% was devoted to the making of good wine, 5% to brandy, and 7% to grape concentrate and the balance to grape spirit. Exports of natural (i.e. non-fortified) bottled wines for 2003 reached 237.3 million litres, an increase of 10% on the previous year. Red wine exports grew by 13% to account for 45% of all natural wines exported.
CLIMATE, SOILS & TERROIR –
The Terroir of the Western Cape’s major wine-growing areas enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with good winter rainfall and warm dry summers. Situated within the Cape Floral Kingdom, (the smallest yet richest of the plant kingdoms), the soil has been completely undisturbed since the last ice age, making it the oldest viticultural soil in the world.
Both climate and soil variations which are mainly sandy - Clovelly, Hutton, Red Clay loams, with some Granite soils, ensure a wide range of wine types and styles can be produced. South African soils are highly varied, not only between different regions, but often also even within the same vineyard. In general, soils on the coastal plain vary from Table Mountain sandstone in the west to granite compounds on the mountain slopes further east. Sands and gravel on the valley floors give way to more stony granite soils higher up the mountain slopes. Shales predominate in the Karoo.
The Cape Winelands are situated between two different oceans, the Atlantic (cold) and the Indian (warm), then stretch from the rugged mountains and multi-directional slopes of the coastal region to the open plains of the Little Karoo where viticulture takes place mainly in the riverine valleys. South Africa’s vineyards are mostly situated in the Western Cape near the coast, where the rainfall on the coastal side measures up to 1,000 mm per year.
The Western Cape’s major wine growing areas stretch from the heart of Namaqualand, north of the majestic Cederberg Mountains in the north-west, to the Klein Karoo, well east of Cape Town. However, most of the 13 wine growing regions are within easy reach of Cape Town, ranging from a 20 minute drive (Constantia) to a 2 hour journey (Robertson).
Under the protection of the Wine of Origin Scheme, the areas of producing in the Cape Winelands are divided into officially demarcated regions, districts and wards. The 5 main regions are - Breede River Valley, Coastal, Boberg, Klein Karoo and Olifants Rivier, encompassing 18 diverse districts and some 53 smaller wards, including exciting new ones like Elim and Philadelphia.
Some of the famous areas for a wine tour are Constantia, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Paarl, Franschhoek, Swartland and Tulbagh, with the cooler region of Walker Bay in Hermanus becoming very popular due to the famous wine farms of Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson.
The Cape Winelands area is the largest wine producing region in the Western Cape and about 834 million litres of wine are produced annually. 5,000 + farmers operate 92 wine estates, 60 co-operative cellars and more than 168 private cellars. These have about 50,000 employees with 250,000 dependants living on the farms. The Wine Industry generates work, directly & indirectly, for 260,000 people mainly in the Western Cape.
An annual output of close to 1 billion litres makes South Africa the 8th largest wine producer in the world. During 1991-1996 exports have grown by 332%.
There are over 12 wine routes in the Cape and all of them are within afew hours drive from Cape Town.
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek are very popular routes and are known for some of the oldest and most well established wine farms. Each of them offers something different and unique in terms of landscape, wine, food and culture. You will be spoilt for choice between small boutique wineries and the larger, more commercial wine estates.
The Western Cape is now also offering 2 exciting Brandy routes, the first – launched in 1997, includes various cellars in and around Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Worcester. The second is called the R62 Brandy route and incorporates visiting points at Worcester, Montagu, Barrydale, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and De Rust.
The art of making cheese, as well as olive oil and olives has also become very popular and there are quite a few farms producing these delicious products together with their wines, like Fairview in Paarl, who is known for their goat’s milk cheeses.
Morgenster in Somerset West, situated right next to Vergelegen, produces Bordeaux-style red wines and its forte is in the blending. Morgenster Olive Oil has won numerous famous international awards for its olive oil, being awarded the “Best Blended Olive Oil in the World”.
Some of the Cape’s wineries and winemakers have, over the years, built up considerable international stature. Nominations to lists in influential American publications (such as Wine Spectator) have put names such as Meerlust, Kanonkop, Glen Carlou, Thelema, Rustenberg, Rust en Vrede, Simonsig and Muldersbosch into the limelight. Magazines like Decanter magazine (UK) and SA Wine magazine have propelled South African wines even further.
In South Africa, various competitions such as Veritas, Michelangelo International Wine Awards, Top Ten Pinotages, Juliet Cullinan Wine Connoisseur’s awards and the annual John Platter Guide’s 5 star ratings guide have, over time, identified the consistently better performers.
The John Platter South African Wine Guide is a very up to date, complete, comprehensive and authoritative chronicle of the South African Wine Industry, covering new wines, cellars and innovations, as well as culinary, recreational and tourist hotspots throughout the Cape Winelands.
Many top red, white and sparkling wines have received awards from various airlines, locally - South African Airways Wine Awards, international airlines like Swiss International Air Lines Awards, Delta Airlines and British Airways. These wines are selectively chosen by these airline carriers and enjoyed by their many passengers.
Oak trees were originally planted in the Cape region to provide oak barrels for wine, but due to the warm Cape climate, these oak trees grew fast and their wood was too porous to be used as barrels. Therefore oak barrels are still imported from Europe; there are over 400 different oak species, with only 20 of these being used for barrels. The average French oak tree is harvested to produce barrels after an astonishing 170 years. Today the average cost of an oak barrel is between 450 USD to 1000 USD. Oak barrels have a short shelf life for wine production and when they have expired, a number of things can be done with them - their insides are either shaved or “toasted” and re-used, or sold on to whiskey and brandy manufacturers, as well as garden furniture being another use.
At Van Ryn’s Distillery in Stellenbosch, visitors have the opportunity to see the ancient art of brandy making, including the skill of the barrel maker (Coopers), who craft the oak barrels in which the brandy is placed for years of maturation, the process that gives this unique spirit its distinctive taste.
Cork for bottle stoppers, comes from the bark of cork trees which are only found in France, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia and Morocco. According to history Dom Perignon (who was the "mythical" founder of Champagne), had nuns visiting his monastery from Portugal. Being intrigued by their silent walking, he investigated by obtaining one of their shoes, to find that the soles where made of cork and realized it would be the perfect material for closing the bottles, being light and waterproof!
Cork trees are very slow growing and hence the Wine Industries initiatives to produce more inexpensive corks like plastic, screw tops, and a recent innovation - glass corks.
The first harvest from a cork tree happens after 25 years, with this harvest being of poor quality. A further 3 more harvests at 9 year intervals also produce sub-standard cork.
At the age of 52 years old, this harvest produces cork suitable enough to be cork for wine bottles. A further 13 to 18 harvests at 9 year intervals then occurs. Due to this being a very time consuming process, each cork tree has its own individual harvesting report which is passed on to generations of future cork farmers.
Cork trees are resistant to draught & insects. The harvesting of cork does not harm the tree and a new layer of cork regrows making it a renewable resource. Cork trees live from 150 to 300 years.
CAP CLASSIQUE, FORTIFIED WINES & BRANDY –
South Africa produces the whole spectrum of red and white wines, high quality Sparkling Wines using the Mèthode Champenoise Tradition as well as Cap Classic styles. Also Rosé, Blanc de Noir, natural sweet wines, Fortified wines like Cape Sherry, Cape Port, Muscadel, Brandy and Grappa, as well as liqueurs. The House of J.C. Le Roux outside Stellenbosch is famous for their sparkling wines.
Mèthode Cap Classique is a South African sparkling wine made to the same method as champagne in France. This means that the wine undergoes a natural, secondary fermentation in the bottle and follows the traditional process of disgorgement where the collected yeast is frozen and extracted from the bottle.
Champagne is a wine region in France and their controlling body CIVC, objected to the use of the word “Champenoise” by other producers around the world. As a result, Cape producers had to come up with an alternative name and in South Africa, this prestigious wine category is now known as Cap Classique. The name was derived from the fact that the classic art of winemaking was introduced to the Cape by the French Huguenots and the first bottle-fermented sparkling wine produced at the Cape was called Kaapse Vonkel (Cape Sparkle).
Following the law about not using the name Champagne for Sparkling wines, the same rule now applies to Sherries and Port, with Portugal and Spain maintaining that the terms Port and Sherry originated in Europe. Indicating certain areas and cannot be shared with similar world wide products. Although the term has been used for hundreds of years in South Africa, the Southern Europe nations want to protect their Sherry and Port producers. The terms “Ruby”, “Tawny” and “Vintage” on labels of the fortified wines will possibly replace the South African products that presently use the name Sherry and Port.
KWV handles the annual surplus, producing Port-like fortified Wines, Brandies, and other spirits (Gin, Vodka) and Liqueurs (including the mandarin-flavoured Van der Hum). KWV first made Sherry-style wines in the 1940’s, located in Paarl, its warm climate is perfect for the art of Sherry making, although the Swartland region is considered to be the home of South Africa’s best Sherry and Port-style wines.
THE FUTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA'S WINE INDUSTRY –
It has been stated that South African wine, which comes from some of the world’s most scenic vineyards, could become the 21st century’s first major wine revolution.
With the end of apartheid and the positive move of full democracy within South Africa, international trade barriers have been lifted. This means that South African wines are now available in many parts of the world for the first time.
This may bring down the price of entry level varietals wines significantly. Today South African wines are interesting many wine enthusiasts, by offering some of the best “quality for price products”. South Africa’s potential has also caught the eye of many foreign winemakers and investors such as Bordeaux’s Lafite Rothschild, Cos d’Estournel and Angélus. “Diversity in wine” - that's the new angle behind promoting the South Africa brands in the international market, with the answer lying in small producers developing unique identities.
Current margins in international markets are under pressure. Continued growth of the industry will also depend on aggressively exploiting new markets and showing a commitment to market demands for higher quality wines. Closer attention will have to be paid to the South African market, where a stronger marketing drive for wine is needed.
The big issues for the industry in the next 5 years will be environmental challenges, global trade, wine marketing, the appearance of wine as a commodity, tax issues, a wine style and vineyard pests.
The Western Cape has the unique combination of a world-class Wine Industry, breath-taking scenery, as well as a rare and extraordinary rich natural plant and animal life – one of the only places in the world with these combinations. The Cape Floral Kingdom is recognized as a global diversity hotspot and a World Heritage Site, home of 9,600 plant species and thousands of animal species.
Despite the Wine Industry’s contribution to the local and national economy and the pressure on the industry to become more globally competitive, growth and expansion cannot take place at the cost of the Western Cape’s unique natural environment. Thankfully to date no signs of major damage to the environment resulting in vineyards expansion has been found. To ensure no future harm is done to the natural environment, the Wine Industry has teamed-up with various leading conservation authorities to launch the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, to protect the interest of both parties and to establish vineyards that are not invasive, but are integral parts of the natural landscape.
Wine producers are encouraged to enter contracts with Cape Nature Conservation to conserve critical sites and to develop bio-diverse wine routes. This will therefore make the South African Wine Industry a world leader in the field of wine and eco-tourism and combined with so much media attention, international awards and accolades, is bound to go from strength to strength.
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