The windiest winery in South Africa

Cathy gets blown away by Cape Point Vineyards.

by: Cathy Marston | 04 Oct 2011

It’s quite cool having an entire wine district to yourself, although it does seem a little surprising – after all, Cape Point Vineyards have been making award-winning wines for over a decade. Surely someone else would have wanted to muscle in on their little patch by now? And then you go and visit and you realise why this is a one-winery district – it’s because it’s just too darned tricky to grow grapes in this wind.

For Duncan Savage, fresh out of Elsenburg, almost 10 years ago, the vineyard has proved a marvellous experimental playground, enabling him to throw out some of his newly-acquired knowledge and replace it with hard-won and unique experience. Growing grapes here is unlike any other place in South Africa, because nowhere else is quite so affected by the southeaster sweeping through the vineyards, causing devastation and mayhem and brutalising the vines.  Over the years, Duncan has added in a variety of different coping methods such as irrigating the younger vines to allow them to fully develop a root structure, terracing the vines tight up against the mountain to gain additional shelter and managing the canopy to get as much sunshine as possible to hit the grapes.

And the results have been astounding. The wines have been regular Platter Five star candidates for many years, either under their own label or as part of the special selections made by Woolworths. With this vintage, they have decided to focus their energies on Sauvignon Blanc and as such, the popular single varietal Semillon and the Scarborough red have been dropped from the range (although the lovely Chardonnay is still available). And the style has changed as well with Duncan bidding farewell to the lean, green kind of wine which has made his name, in favour of a richer, more exotic, yet at the same time, more elegant glass of wine.

The top wines remain limited release sell-outs and Duncan says it is difficult to see how he could make any more wine than he currently does. The vineyards teeter almost on the brink of the mountain (although he did confess to a hankering to actually plant some vines right on the top as well – a desire so far vetoed by owner Sybrand van der Spuy!), stretch across to take in the old kaolin mines and leave very little left to develop. So Duncan has introduced the popular Splattered Toad range using fruit from Durbanville and elsewhere, which has seen sales soar in recent years. A portion of the price (R44 for both red and white) goes towards supporting the Western Leopard Toad, of which there are many in and around the vineyards, helped across the busy main roads by a small army of volunteers.

Plans are afoot for developing some of the land around the dam and possibly offering picnics or other events and it will certainly make for one of the Cape’s most spectacular sundowner spots if it all comes off. In the meantime, go and try the wines in their tasting room on Chapman’s Peak Road – the top stuff is in high demand, but there is plenty of Toad to be splattered around!

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