Otherwise known as "cult" wines (according to the South African Trilingual Wine Industry Dictionary), boutique wines are defined as ‘high quality wines made by a small winery of limited quantities for which committed buyers will pay large sums of money because of their desirability and rarity.’
Shon Kumar, wine fundi and co-owner of the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show, agrees. “South Africa’s boutique wine farms are small, mostly family run, and produce low volumes – of generally less than 50,000 bottles per year.”
For a chance to taste and buy wines that you normally can’t get hold of, visit the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show in Johannesburg from 6-8 June 2019.
A selection of some of South Africa’s exceptional boutique wineries will be showcased under one roof at the Montecasino Outdoor Events Area. Here's what's on offer:
Bartho Eksteen Wijnskool
House of Mandela Wines
Seven Springs Vineyards
Axe Hill Winery
Die Mas Van Kakamas
Rainbow's End Estate
* Book your tickets for the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show in Johannesburg here using "IOL" as the Promo code and get an exclusive 30% off general admission tickets.
What’s special about boutique wineries?
“I’m passionate about boutique wine farms. I think they’re one of the most exciting things about the local wine industry and we are lucky to have some fantastic small farms producing excellent wines – they can be difficult to find, but they’re well worth the effort," says Shon.
“These small wine farms are invariably owned and run by committed people with a real love of making wine by hand – and they bring a uniqueness to the industry. This is an exciting time for our boutique wine farms; they are producing some top notch wines, they are becoming better known, and several already have a strong ‘cult’ following internationally, with a reputation for high quality and interesting wines.”
Cost? “Yes, they can be a bit more expensive as so much of the process is done by hand and their volumes are small.”
Favourite boutique wines? "My list of favourites is growing. At this stage it includes multi-award-winning Bartho Eksteen’s wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Hermanus, Jan Harmsgat in Robertson, and Black Elephant Vintners, ‘the rebels of the vine’ in Franschhoek."
Meet the winemakers at Bartho Eksteen
Suné Eksteen, Bartho’s vivacious wife, says it’s all-hands-on-deck on the farm for the whole family. “It’s a small farm and we all do everything – it’s not glamorous and certainly it’s not a place for stilettos!”
Bartho Eksteen is renowned among wine aficionados – dubbed the "Sage of Sauvignon" with his award-winning wooded wines – and is a member of the Cape Winemaker’s Guild. Their son, Pieter Wilhelm, is also making a name for himself as a wine maker, and recently brought another one into the family when he married an Argentinian wine maker.
The Bartho Eksteen wine range includes Tree of Knowledge wines, Bartho Eksteen Signature Wines (five wines designed for a five-course meal – bubbly, Sauvignon Blanc, rosé, red blend, and a French Sauterne style dessert wine), the Bartho Eksteen Flagship Wines (one barrel each of wooded Sauvignon Blanc and a Rhône-style red, and others), and Cape Wine Makers Guild wines (wooded Sauvignon Blanc called Vloekskoot, five stars in the Platter wine guide; and a "true" Pinotage called Professore, a tribute to two great pioneers in the industry, professors Abraham Perold and Chris Orffer, propagators of South Africa’s Pinotage, Roobernet, and nouvelle grapes, and considered a world first.)
The farm is also famous for the old Mill House, the oldest building in the region, where wine tastings are hosted six days a week, and the Wijnskool, which offers wine courses for teens and post-school youth, teaching the culture, art and craft of winemaking, and the responsibilities that go with it.
Suné’s favourite wine? “I can’t choose just one – it’s like choosing a favourite child!” Bartho doesn't hesitate: “The five-star Flagship Houtskool wooded Sauvignon Blanc.”
Meet the winemaker at Jan Harmsgat
Mitch Boy, head of wine at Jan Harmsgat (JHG), is immensely proud of the farm’s successes and its trajectory. The farm is family-owned, with past Miss South Africa Amy Kleinhans-Curd as one of the shareholders, actively involved in empowerment of the people on the farm.
The farm is over 300 years old and a historic landmark in the Robertson area, but it is only in the last four years that its wines have been introduced to the trade, generally in high end restaurants.
Boy says the farm practices wine-making with a difference. “Our five JHG wines are created from single blocks of the vineyard according to the different soil profiles, they are natural and vegan friendly, they contain minimal sulphur, and they endure minimal interference at every stage of the process. The single-block wine making means that the wines are of a higher quality because smaller volumes are produced and each bottle can be tracked to its vineyard.”
The Jan Harmsgat Country House offering includes the guest farm, the Just Amy Restaurant, which serves only produce sourced from the estate, the largest pomegranate production in the country at 500 tons per year, and the wine-making, which is at about 35,000 bottles per year, and is aiming at reaching 85,000 bottles.
One of Boy’s favourites is the JHG pinotage, the estate’s signature wine: “They are very unique, soft, and elegant.”
* Get an exclusive 30% off general admission tickets for the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show in Johannesburg by clicking on the image below and entering "IOL" as the Promo code.