There were two lots of roadworks on our route when we visited Journey’s End causing us to take a scenic diversion through Sir Lowry’s Pass village (and you don’t often here those words in the same sentence). We began to think we would never reach the aptly-named winery, but eventually we made it back onto the main road and then up through the vineyards to the impressive cellars and deck. The occasion was the launch of their new cellar and, looking at the massed throng on the terrace, it was clear that every wine hack in the Southern Hemisphere had gleefully written off the last day of this hectically busy week and decided to head to Journey’s End and just have a good time instead – the place was packed.
Journey’s End owner Roger Gabb was the brains behind the Kumala brand in the UK – the best-selling South African wine in the 1990’s - and after selling it to Constellation, he and his wife Annie bought their farm at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass. An extensive re-planting programme has been carried out over the last fifteen years and now, with the building of the new winery and barrel cellar, the Gabbs are ready to follow up on their initial success which saw them garnering 5 stars in John Platter 2004 for their maiden Chardonnay.
That Chardonnay was still tasting pretty darned good when we tried it, as were all the other wines in the tutored tasting led by MD Rollo Gabb and winemaker Leon Esterhuizen. There were so many wine hacks there that they had arranged us in rows of pews facing the altar of wine. In fact, it was rather like being at a wedding and I was interested to see which of the wine heavyweights took it upon themselves to be the bride and grooms’ families and sit in the front rows - little love lost between those two families I suspect!
Caterer Richard Chamberlain’s (www.outofthisplanetcatering.co.za) fabulous meal was rounded off with Desmond Hans and The Mighty Joyous Singers serenading us in the cellar, over the cheese. This group of farm workers so impressed Rollo Gabb with their vocal talents that he has helped them form a singing group which is now enjoying bookings – and income – from all over the Cape. Sitting in the cellar, sipping Chardonnay, surrounded by barrels with those glorious voices reaching to the rafters, it certainly felt like a fitting finale to Journey’s End – a good job, well done.
My pick of the wines (all available from Manuka in Somerset West and other specialised retailers):
Journey’s End The Pastor’s Blend 2007 RRP approx R55
Mainly Cabernet with some Merlot and Shiraz, this is smooth and silky with ripe, red and black fruit. A portion of the proceeds goes to the local community choir and band.
Journey’s End Destination Chardonnay 2006 RRP approx R170
Flagship white with multiple layers of flavours – white peaches, honey, marzipan and citrussy acidity. Beautifully balanced with an endless finish.
Journey’s End Merlot 2006 RRP approx R120
Slightly herbaceous entry gives way to toasty vanilla choc-mint on the nose. Rounded, soft, black fleshy fruit, juicy tannins and a delicious gritty texture throughout. Great food wine.