Tag Archives: Dunstone

Wellington Wine Walk: Day 2 not just about Wines, but about Coffee, Gin, and Country food too!

Just over a week ago my school friend Jenny Stephens and I spent two days on the Wellington Wine Walk, a guiding service offered by our school friend Elaine Wegelin and her colleagues Katrin Steytler, and Carol-Ann Jeffrey.

Jenny, Elaine, and I grew up in Wellington, and sat on the same school benches at three Wellington schools. Having left Wellington after Matric 50 years ago, it was not just an eating and drinking adventure, but it was a catch-up of how our hometown has grown and developed in this time. Continue reading →

Corona Virus: Lockdown Journey Journal, Day 48 of Level 1, 7 November 2020.


Saturday 7 November 2020, Day 48 of Level 1, Day 226 of Lockdown ūüė∑

Corona Gratitude ūüôŹ

#Grateful for starting our day with the first sign of the sun in two days, and the luck of being able to do our walking sections throughout the day without any rain; for a lovely breakfast at Dunstone Restaurant; for being shuttled to VillaMar at the other end of Wellington, for an informative coffee tasting; for a winetasting at Doolhof Wines, at the end of Bovlei; for a sunny walk alongside the Kromme River to Welvanpas Family Vineyards for lunch and a winetasting; for a walk to close to Bosman Family Vineyards, a wine producer, and the largest producer of ‚Äėstokkies‚Äô (new vines created by grafting onto Rootstock) in Africa; for being shuttled back to our car at Diemersfontein, picking up our purchases made at our different stops in the past two days; for safely returning to Cape Town; and for being happy and healthy. ūüôŹūüíô Continue reading →

Winemakers and media need to get closer, to market wines better!

PRNET HPF Swart SkaapThe Public Relations networking association PRNet recently hosted an inaugural ‘PRNET Trade meet your media’ event¬†at Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel & Spa, focusing on the Wine Trade. ¬†Cape Wine Master Clive Torr encouraged wine estates and writers to get to know each other better, so that the former can provide writers with information about what is unique about their wine estate and its wines.

Torr was introduced as a garagiste winemaker, and has spent time in the Napa valley. ¬†He said currently ‘Chenin is flying‘, being so popular. ¬†He noted that consumers are shying away from ‘austere wines’, looking for ‘lesser acidity‘ and ‘quicker drinkability‘. ¬†He said that grapes are often picked too quickly, and warned that one should wait for ‘physiological ripeness‘, judged by the colour of the pip, and other factors. ¬†He suggested that many of our local winemakers are German-orientated in their winemaking, having studied PRNet Wine Clive Torr Whale Cottage Portfolioat Geisenheim, making them precise, clinical, adding what one is allowed, and controlling fermentation. One could sense that he supports the French style of winemaking, which is to add nothing at all, and to keep the wine making process as natural as possible. ‘It is time for transparency‘, he said, and intimated that this will increasingly be the future trend. ¬†He was critical of Merlot production, saying that our winemakers are ‘floundering‘ in making it. ¬†Riesling is not his favourite either, saying that it has ‘high acidity and little taste‘. ¬†He talked about adding antibiotics, which is done locally, but is not allowed in the European Union. ¬†He said that many wine¬†drinkers are allergic to sulphur, feeling its effect the following day.

Should the threatened ban on advertising materialise, editorial coverage will be one of few means whereby coverage can be achieved. ¬†¬†He emphasised how important it is to stay in contact with the media, as it is free advertising if they write about one’s Continue reading →

Wellington Wine Route: friendly wine estates

I spent the past weekend in my old hometown Wellington, and stayed at Grand Dédale Country House  on the Doolhof wine estate, at the end of the Bovlei Road.   Angelo of Grand Dédale had set up some appointments to visit the private wine estates (Nabygelegen and Klein Optenhorst).  My wine estate visits were concentrated on the Bovlei Road (4 km of it is untarred, which rattled me and the car when I first arrived, but two days later it was no longer an issue), and my impression of this first taste of the fine Wellington wineries is one of overwhelming friendliness and good neighbourliness.  I did not manage to visit all the wine estates in Wellington, and Welvanpas, Bosman Family Vineyards, Andreas, the Jorgensen Distillery (not a wine estate but producing very exciting spirits), and others will have to wait for a next visit:


The 380 ha wine estate lies at the end of the Bovlei Road, and while its name means labyrinth in Afrikaans, a cul de sac was also given this name.¬†¬†Doolhof belongs to Dorothy and Dennis Kerrison.¬† Its soils are “finer, more balanced and deeper than in the surrounding countryside, with¬†clay content evenly distributed”.¬† The roots are able to grow to four meters and beyond, the Room Directory informs Grand D√©dale guests.¬†¬† The location of the farm allows it to have cooler summers and warmer winters¬†than the norm in Wellington.¬† Less than 10 % of the farm is under vine.¬† Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz are grown.¬† The remainder of the farmland is uncultivated, and consists largely of fynbos.¬† The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative is supported by Doolhof, and a programme is in place to remove alien Black¬†Wattles, and to plant indigenous wetland plants and trees.¬† The cellar was started in 2004, and the tasting room once was the stables on the farm.¬†¬† Its architecture and interior decor reflects that of Grand D√©dale Country House on the wine estate, but is less extravagant.¬† The Doolhof hostess used the word “elegant” to describe it perfectly.¬† One can sit inside the spacious airconditioned tasting room, or outside at a water feature.¬†¬† One can order food as well, I was told, and an arrangement with Grand D√©dale Country House¬†to provide this service has ended, with a dedicated chef starting next week, to prepare meals for the Doolhof tasting room visitors.¬†¬†

There are three Doolhof wine ranges, and their labels are equally elegant:

*   the Cape range is the entry level range, and its wines are a blend of own grapes as well as those of other estates.  Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Robin Rosé, Cape Boar (Merlot-based blend) and Cape Roan blend with Shiraz.  The price ranges from R 33 РR49.

*   the Signatures of Doolhof range is made from Doolhof grapes only, and Sauvignon Blanc (R54), Chardonnay Unwooded (R54), Chardonnay Barrel Fermented (R92), Cabernet Sauvignon (R70), Shiraz (R70), Pinotage (R86), Petit Verdot R124), Renaissance blend (R80), Merlot (R81) and Malbec (R124) is produced.  

*   the Legends of the Labyrinth range has three wines: The Minotaur is the most expensive wine sold at Doolhof, at R150, and is a blend of six grapes: Merlot, Malbec,  Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz;  Lady in Red is a Bordeaux-style blend (R70); and Dark Lady is a Pinotage with chocolate and mocha aromas (R70). 

The Doolhof Tasting Room staff are smartly dressed, in blue shirts with Doolhof branding.¬† Natasha was a self-confident and knowledgeable hostess, and made photocopies of more detailed notes on each wine, in colour, and for each wine a suitable food pairing suggestion is provided.¬†¬†A stem tag identifies the wine one is tasting, a professional touch.¬† The brochure is attractive and professional looking.¬†¬† One can join the ‘Denizens of Doolhof Wine Club’, a rather unfortunate name!¬† The wine estate is largely bottling with cork, but is planning to move more towards screwcaps in future.

It seems a shame that Grand Dédale and Doolhof do not interact more, by displaying each others brochures.  The Grand Dédale Room Directory has detailed information about the wine estate.  Both are on Twitter, and should support each other in that medium too.   The Doolhof wines dominate the Grand Dédale wine list.

Doolhof Wine Estate, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel (021) 873- 6911. www.doolhof.com Monday РSaturday 10h00 Р17h00, Sunday 10h00 Р16h00

Dunstone Winery

Dunstone Boutique Winery opened in 2006, and 2,7 ha of the 4 ha is planted to vine.¬†¬†The name of the winery was¬†chosen by its owners Lee and Abbi Wallis, Dunstone being the place in the United Kingdom in which the couple¬†got engaged.¬† A lot is made of the ‘stone’ part of the Dunstone name, in that the entrance wall is built from stone, there is¬†a stone display as one walks from the tasting room to the garden, the vases with fly-deterrent branches have little stones in them, and the bill¬†for The Stone Kitchen restaurant (separate review to come) comes with a large stone on the silver holder, to prevent it from flying away.¬†¬† I felt that the wine estate is “schizophrenic”, in not knowing what character it wishes to have, judging by its entrance, building and interior.¬† The most beautiful stainless steel Weimaraner dog logo is erected on each of the walls at the entrance, in honour of the Wallis’ dog named Shiraz.¬† The stainless steel dogs lead one to expect a very high-tech winery, being so new and with its strong use of stainless steel, and also as the winery calls itself ’boutique’, but the wine tasting building is very ordinary, without a defined¬†architectural style.¬†¬† But what is even odder is¬†the cottagey wood furniture in the tasting room, which also is the interior seating for the restaurant.¬† The restaurant tables and chairs look really old-fashioned, and a long table has benches¬†with cushions on them in different colours and patterns – the material from these have been laminated, and are used as (small) place mats in the restaurant.¬† A lamp above the wine tasting counter has been made from a ‘wingerdstok’, and has fairy lights laced through it.¬† The big stainless steel vats are in the room too, as is a display fridge with chef Johan van Schalkwyk’s muffins to buy, and some of his jams and muesli mixes which he sells, as well as trays of desserts he was serving at a wedding that same evening, as he also runs a catering company called Twist.¬† The beautiful brochure for the winery creates even more confusion, in that it has a beautiful¬†image of the¬†Weimaraner logo on the stone wall, in silver, on the front cover, again giving the winery a very hi-tech image.¬† The¬†Dunstone labels also have the Weimaraner logo on them, also in silver.¬†¬†¬†

Carina Stock is a friendly German wine hostess, and she will be increasingly involved in all aspects of the wine production.  She studied art and jewellery design, and spent many years at Uitkyk, in restoring wallpaintings.  She has worked at Boschendal and at DG Bellingham.  More than 11000 bottles are produced per year.   At Dunstone all vineyard work is done by hand, and tractors are not used.     Carina offered me four Dunstone wines to taste: 

Rosé 2010 (R45):   Crisp and dry, with strawberry, raspberries and plum.

Merlot 2007 (R65): Silver Medal won at Veritas Awards 2008 Рfull-bodied, ripe dark fruit, spices and oak, matured in French oak barrels for up to 14 months.  The Merlot 2008 (R65) is a lighter wine.

Shiraz 2009 (R120): First 5-star Platter rating¬†for a Wellington wine, in 2010 edition, for the 2008 vintage, as well as Gold won at International Wine Challenge and Old Mutual Trophy Awards, and Double Gold at Michelangelo Awards.¬† 2008 vintage sold out.¬† 2009 vintage described by Jancis Robinson as “Dry, baked nose but sufficiently juicy fruit on the palate.”¬† The wine is matured in French, Hungarian¬†and American oak for up to 14 months, is heavier, and¬†“with a long finish”.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Adi Badenhorst is the consultant winemaker.¬† Alli’s father Robert Frith is always on the farm during the harvest, Carina said.¬† He encouraged the Wallis couple to take out some of the guava trees, and plant grapes, being a garagiste in the UK.¬† Wine lovers are encouraged to come and help harvest the grapes and to participate in the winemaking process, even stomping the grapes, a personalised participation.¬† One must call to ensure that there is harvest or winemaking activity taking place on¬†a given¬†day.

Dunstone Winery, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel (021) 873-6770. www.dunstone.co.za  Open Monday РFriday 10h00 Р17h00, Saturday 11h00 Р15h00. 

 Bovlei Cellar

As one drives out of Wellington, towards the Bain’s Kloof Pass, the Bovlei winery is on the right, a co-operative of 32 farmers producing 8000 tonnes per year.¬† Established in 1907, it is the oldest in Wellington (there are two others) and is the second oldest co-operative in South Africa, I was told by Tasting Room hostess Melissa van Wyk.¬†¬† The wines sold at Bovlei are extremely good value, but range in Platter rating from 2 – 3,5 stars.

There are four ranges:

*¬†¬† The winemakers selected specific grapes from specific members’ farms to make the Vineyard Selected Range, consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and a¬†Shiraz/Mouvedr√© blend, all costing R50

*¬† the rest of the members’ grapes go into the making of their Lifestyle range, consisting of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Beaukett, Gew√ľrztraminer and Special Late Harvest, all costing between R 22 – R25.¬† The reds are Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, at R30 a bottle.¬† Ros√© costs R20, and a sparkling Brut R30.¬† The Shiraz won¬†the Best Shiraz and Best Red in the 2010 “Quest for the Best” of Wellington competition.¬†

*¬†¬† The Thomas Kipling range is available in Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Red, Dry White and Cabernet/Merlot blend, made exclusively for Pick ‘n Pay, Game and other liquor outlets, starting off at R19,99.

*   The Bovlei Centenary Selection is available in a Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, each costing R35, a 100th birthday celebratory range made in 2007.

Bovlei Cellar, Bain’s Kloof Road, Wellington.¬†Tel (021) 873-1567.¬† www.bovlei.co.za¬† Monday – Friday 8h00 – 17h00, Saturday 8h30 – 12h30.¬†


I was extremely fortunate to get an appointment to meet James McKenzie, from the private wine estate that is highly rated by wine writer Neil Pendock, I was told.¬†¬† A misunderstanding about my expected time of arrival was quickly forgiven by James, and he patiently sat with me, doing a detailed tasting of his Nabygelegen and Snow Mountain ranges. He told me that he bought the 35ha farm (19,5ha under vine)¬†ten years ago, having been a banker in London and Z√ľrich.¬† He was so determined to become a winemaker that he studied wine making by correspondence course, and first¬†worked on wine farms in France, Spain, New Zealand and Chile, to learn from them.¬† The farm dates back to 1712, and one of his wines is named after this date.¬† He is hands-on, harvesting, marketing, receiving journalists, wine-making, organising the use of¬†the¬†cottage by guests, and the planned¬†use of the old stables as a winetasting facility and restaurant.¬†¬†Johan Wiese is a consultant viticulturist for Nabygelegen.¬†¬†The pricelist states that his wines are “handcrafted wines”.¬† The brochure states the mission of Nabygelegen to be “To create of wines character and concentration reflecting vineyard specific terroir, using environmentally sound techniques, subscribe to ethical labour practices and enthusiastically pursue upliftment in the valley”.¬† It recommends a suitable food type to eat with each of the wines.¬† James makes the Nabygelegen range, utilising grapes from his own farm, which consists of the following:

*   Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (R40) Рvery fruity, the best Sauvignon Blanc he has made to date, James said, and his 2010 vintage of 6000 bottles has just sold out

*   Lady Anna 2009 (R32) Рa light and fruity chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and semillion blend, named after the neighbouring farm owner Anna Lategan, who is respected for having freed her slaves a number of years ahead of the official abolition of slavery in 1815.  Her ghost is said to wander on Nabygelegen and De Compagne, the neighbouring farm!

*   Chenin Blanc 2009 (R45) Рfull-bodied chenin, which is barrel fermented

*¬†¬† Scaramanga 2008¬†(R50) – the Spanish nickname for Tempranillo, and also the name of the “baddie” character in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’¬†Bond movie. Tempranillo is one of the grape types from which this wine is made, with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.¬† It is made in the New World style, with focus on its flavour and smell.¬†Only four wine estates¬†grow Tempranillo in South Africa. ¬†It is an upfront wine.

*   Merlot 2007 (R62) Рsweet cherry and berry

*   Petit Verdot 2008 (R80) Рintense fruit with layers of vanilla and chocolate

*   Seventeen Twelve 2006 (R90) Рa classic Bordeaux Blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon,

The Snow Mountain range was launched last year, out of a need for a more pronounceable name for the English market, and it was named after Sneeukop, the highest mountain peak in Wellington.¬† The grapes are bought in from other Wellington farms, which are higher up, and¬†therefore grow in a ‘continental climate’ and not a Mediterranean one, as do most other local wines, excellent for the production of the Pinot Noir in particular, he said.

*   Rosé 2009 (R30) Рmade in the French style, not sweet, served at Wimbledon

*   Pinot Noir 2009 (R90) Рhighly regarded, has been served at Kensington and Buckingham Palaces

One of James’ greatest enjoyments is the ‘number of beautiful places’ in which his wines are sold.¬† I asked him which these are, and his top three are the following: Librije’s in Zusje in Holland; Claridges in London; and The Green and Blue Wine Shop in London, owned by ex-South African Kate Thal.¬† We started tasting in the tasting room initially, tasting the whites and Ros√©, then walked through the maturation cellar, which is used as a function venue,¬†for which James’ friend Matthew Gordon from Franschhoek cooks, and tasted the Pinot Noir and reds in a¬†most special tiny underground cellar, which has a glass window showing the soil depth and the rock formation.¬†¬† I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of the Snow Mountain Shiraz 2009, which has not yet been released.

Nabygelegen, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel (021) 873-7534.  www.nabygelegen.co.za  Monday РFriday 10h00 Р16h30, Saturday 9h00 Р12h30.

Klein Optenhorst

Jenny and Naas Ferriera have lived on Klein Optenhorst since 1987, on a farm that once was the home of¬†my classmate Beverly Pywell and her family, and which I had visited for birthday parties.¬†¬† A small 1 ha property has Pinot Noir grapes and the most beautiful garden, which the Ferreiras developed over time.¬†¬† A gazebo with a whale weathervane has become the logo for the boutique wine estate, and caught my eye immediately.¬†¬† Since 1994 the family produced Pinot Noir, but last year decided to make a Pinot Noir MCC sparkling wine instead, utilising the talents of Pieter Ferriera, whose wife Ann is the niece of Naas.¬†¬† I was offered a glass of the beautiful bubbly by Ferreira daughter Jane Eedes, who is marketing the sparkling wine, a total of 1592 bottles of this maiden vintage having been produced.¬†The inspiration for the label¬†design by Eddy Haumann is the salvias from Jenny’s garden.¬† I was treated to a guided tour of the garden,¬†and¬†was most generously given a bottle of the Pinot Noir as well as the Pinot Noir MCC.¬†¬†

Klein Optenhorst, Bovlei Road, Wellington.  Tel Jane Eedes 083 324 6855.


Located at the entrance to Wellington from the Paarl side, Diemersfontein has become a ‘residential estate’, is a wine farm, a spa, has a preparatory school, and has 30 rooms of accommodation.¬†¬†I have not been to Diemersfontein for many years, and have not ever drunk their wines nor seen their wine tasting room.¬† I had booked a table for lunch, and had¬†a vision of an old manor house with a big stoep, which was the original Diemersfontein homestead.¬† It is only used as accommodation and David Sonnenberg, the current owner, has an office there, I was told.¬†¬†The Sonnenberg family (linked to Woolworths)¬†has owned Diemersfontein since 1943, and originally apricots were the main fruit harvest.¬†¬† Then export plums were farmed.¬†¬† ¬†¬† Wine has been made in the past ten years, and the property is described as a “Residential Wine Estate”.

 I was disappointed to find a modern building which houses both the restaurant Seasons (see review) and the Tasting Room.    The Tasting Room was not immediately visible, and we could not work out which door was unlocked, to allow us to enter.  It is small, compared to some of the others I visited in Wellington over the weekend, just containing a counter with bar chairs.   Aubern was friendly, and hunted down the last brochure for the wine estate.  Brett Rightford is the cellarmaster, and he is responsible for making all the Diemersfontein wines other than Pinotage, which is the responsibility of Francois Roode.

There are three ranges at Diemersfontein, for which 70 % of the grapes come from the estate, and the remainder are bought from other Wellington farms.  The Platter star rating of each wine is listed on the price list:

*   Carpe Diem is the flagship, and its wines are matured in French and American oak for 15 months as a minimum.  The Pinotage 2008 was awarded 4,5 stars by Platter, and is sold out.   Prices are on the high side, between R 89 (Chenin Blanc and Viognier) and R110 for Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Malbec.

*¬†¬† The Diemersfontein range spends 6 months in oak, and is priced at R70, only the Pinotage being slightly more expensive.¬† There is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Summer’s Lease Shiraz-based blend and a Heaven’s Eye Bordeaux-style blend.¬† A red blend called “For the Birds!” sells at a low price of R45, and 10 % of sales goes to the “Save our Seabirds” Fund of Birdlife South Africa¬†

*   The Thokozani range was launched last year, and is an empowerment project, with staff, investors and the Sonnenbergs as shareholders, and Aubern is focused on his goal to become a shareholder too.  The Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay/Viognier blend costs R49, Rosé R 39, and the Shiraz/Mourvedré/Viognier blend costs R 69.

For its good reputation, duration of wine production, and stature of wine estate, I was disappointed with the lack of marketing collateral, photocopied price list,¬†and the ‘ordinariness’ and small size of the tasting room. Diemersfontein came across as the most ‘commercialised’ of the Wellington wine estates I visited, yet was friendly too.

Diemersfontein Wines,  Jan van Riebeeck Drive, Wellington.   Tel (021) 864-5050. www.diemersfontein.co.za  Monday РSunday 10h00 Р17h00.

A tear-off map of Wellington’s accommodation, wine estates, restaurants and shops was printed about three years ago, but does not appear to have been updated.¬† It is similar to the excellent Franschhoek Wine Valley map, providing not only a location perspective, but also the contact details and tasting times.¬†¬† It appears to have been replaced with a recent brochure on Wellington.¬†¬† An update of the tear-off map¬†for the wine estates would be a good idea, to¬†encourage winelovers to visit as many wine estates as they can.¬†¬†¬†A website of the Wellington Wine Route, or even a blog, may be a consideration too.

 Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage