SIJNN wines: from most southern part of Africa

Jennifer Sanasie finds out what makes this wine producer so unique.

by: Jennifer Sanasie | 04 Mar 2015

You could say that SIJNN Wines are "in-sijnn-ly" delicious. The bold, complex flavours are what hook you, and keep you coming back for more. Nestled away near the most southern part of Africa, SIJNN is an unusually refreshing winery that produces unusually refreshing wines. 

As the only vineyard in Malgas, a small settlement to the right of the Breede river, this vineyard is the little vineyard that could. The small estate has only 16ha under cultivation and is known for growing some grape varieties that might seem unusual here in South Africa. 

Celebrated architect turned winemaker, David Trafford, the mastermind behind this vineyard, said "I have [...] been interested in the potential of areas outside of the traditional winegrowing areas, as well as interesting grape varieties more suited to the Cape's climate." David looked to warm, dry climates in Europe for inspiration and has planted lesser known varietals such as Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, and Roussanne, with plans to add more next year, Assyrtika, Verdelho and Grenache to name a few.

After vacationing in Malgas with his wife in 2000, David says he noticed the incredible soils. The vineyards are covered in clay-coloured 'pudding stones,' these stones along with a malleable slate rock make up the starting point for this unique terroir.  

Similar to the soils in Chateauneuf-du-Pape in France and areas in Portugal, this soil gives the wine complexity and intensity. As a matter of fact, if you so dare to taste the slate, you might even pick up the mineral notes that subtly come through on some of the wines. David started planting bush vine in these unforgiving soils ten years ago, while his peers dubbed him crazy. A decade down the line, David and his team have overcome some great obstacles, and are making some of the most unique wines in the country.

David spends his time split between SIJNN and his Stellenbosch wine farm, De Trafford wines. Young winemaker, 24-year-old Charla Haasbroek, oversees production at SIJNN when David is away. 

"She is like an angel that has landed on the rough stones of Malgas and has made herself surprisingly comfortable [...] Most writers only see the sipping on the patio side of wine, but there is also the tough farming side and the great thing is, she seems to handle both." David describes their relationship as a simple father/daughter relationship. With a mentor like David, we can only expect great things from Charla to come.

Critically acclaimed, SIJNN, has received 2015 Platter's 4.5 stars for their Sijnn White 2012, Syrah 2012 and Touriga Nacional 2012, but that hasn't stopped them on continuing to raise the bar, they will be releasing a once off Viognier and Off Centre (Tricadeira / Mourvedre blend perfect for summer red wine drinking) that both boast star quality.

SIJNN's handcrafted wines range from R150-R250 per bottle. David says his wines are like puppies, they must go to a good home. We asked him what he meant by this, he says "When you go to the amount of effort to make wine like we do, we hope they are enjoyed appropriately."

Watch us taste the SIJNN Touriga Nacional with our wine expert, Cathy Marston.

We also tasted the SIJNN White, see what Cathy had to say about this wine.

If you're heading to Malgas for some time away, it's definitely worth a stop by the vineyard for a tasting, they are open on Saturdays from 10am - 3pm. 


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