I have driven past the Whalehaven Winery on numerous occasions when visiting Hermanus, and it did not attract me into the building, having looked clinical and functional in all its time, being well located at the entrance to the Hermanus Wine Route. Recently the owners of Whalehaven Winery renovated and enlarged the Tasting Room, creating a welcoming space in which to showcase its wines.
Italian-born Alberto Bottega is the patriarch of Bottega Family Wine, which consists of Whalehaven in Hermanus and Idiom Fine Wine on Sir Lowry’s Pass. He is charming, and explained that his daughter Sylvana is in charge of Marketing since they bought the winery eleven years ago, but that she is based in Johannesburg as the CEO of the Southern Africa Luxury Association. Alberto pops in at the boutique winery regularly, to check that all is in order. The winemaker is Reino Thiart, while Naomi Herbst is the Tasting Room Manager.
The Whalehaven range currently consists of Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Viognier Chardonnay 2012, Chardonnay 2011, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, Pinot Noir 2010, Merlot 2010, Cabernet Franc 2008, and Pinotage 2010. In their W range they make a Pinotage Rosé 2012 and Old Harbour 2010, both good value wines. The pay-off line for Whalehaven is ‘Wines that are a triumph of nature’. Grapes are sourced from the family-owned Da Capo Vineyards on Sir Lowry’s Pass.
I noted the selection of chocolate slabs on the tasting counter, with attractive labels, named Golden Country Fine Floral Chocolates, and are made by Richard von Geusau in Greyton. They pair their Whalehaven wines with the 80% rich dark chocolate with fynbos, 60% milk chocolate with lavender and rosemary, 37,7% milk chocolate with rose and rooibos, and white chocolate and orange blossom, which I was able to experience with Alberto, who kindly did not charge for the tasting. They sell a range of Golden Country jams, e.g. Merlot in Blackberry, and Violet and Strawberry, and do wine and jam pairings too! This is as far as food goes at Whalehaven, it being a shame that the attractive space is not enhanced with a food offering. Alberto told me that they had engaged a pop-up restaurant during the Festive Season, with Italian Chef Walter Dri.
Whalehaven is worth a visit at the start to the Hermanus Wine Route. It is commendable that the wine estate supports the South African Whale Disentaglement Network, and the Dolphin Action Protection Group.
Whalehaven, Hemel-en-Aarde, Hermanus. Tel (028) 316-1633. www.whalehaven.co.za Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00, Saturday and Sunday 10h00 – 15h00. Twitter: @WhalehavenWines
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage