Welgegund, meaning “well-bestowed”, is the perfect title for this heritage estate nestled at the foot of the magnificent Hawequa mountains at the end of an oak-lined cul-de-sac in Wellington.
Visitors don’t have to venture far to experience the fruits of its blessings: a place of natural beauty, heritage buildings dating back to the early 1800’s and a unique fingerprint of terroir and climate.
Although historically a fruit farm, it is as a wine farm that Welgegund has truly come into its own. The ancient decomposed granite of the foothills yields vines that produce intensely flavoured fruit ideal for creating the very best wines. The breezes funnelling down the valley from the Bains Kloof Pass moderate the extremes of the climate and the old dryland bush vines offer extremely low yields of fruit (average of 2.4 tons per hectare) with exceptional concentration. With quality the bedrock, the focus is on growing cultivars uniquely suited to the farm, namely Rhône-style varieties, and launching limited releases only in very good years.
Welgegund’s heritage vineyards and the Old Vines Project
Welgegund’s ancient blocks of low-yielding dryland bush vines: chenin blanc (1974), cinsault (1974) and carignan (1979) form part of the new and exciting Old Vine Project, an industry initiative dedicated to recognising the special character of the Cape’s wine heritage and to preserving these beautiful old vines. Vineyards more than 35 years old are being honoured with Certified Heritage Vineyards plaques, and wines made from these heritage vineyards will proudly bear the Old Vine Project Heritage Certification Seal – A World First! In recognition of the important work of the Old Vine Project, the Platter’s Wine Guide is including the Certified Heritage Wines icon in the 2019 edition.
What makes Old Vines wine special? Like older people, ancient vines have their own unique story that the Old Vine Project is passionate about protecting and sharing. Heritage vineyards produce wines with a distinctive character that has developed over decades including denser texture and structure, complexity, concentration and earthy flavour compounds rather than aromas and fruity flavours. Age in vines brings an intensity, a perceived freshness and a sense of place.
WELGEGUND HERITAGE WINES CINSAULT AND GRENACHE NOIR 2017
“2017 proved to be an exceptional vintage,” says winemaker, Friedrich Kühne. “Our single vineyard Cinsault and Grenache Noir are normally destined for blending but when I saw the exceptional quality of these varietals in barrel, I just knew that I had to do single cultivar bottlings of these top niche varieties and show these wines to the world. The immense drought of the 2016/2017 season had created smaller Cinsault and Grenache berries bringing lovely colour and intense concentration to the wines, with a wealth of fruit, richness, texture and depth of flavour. I wanted to showcase the ample fruit and aromas unique to Cinsault and Grenache.”
Welgegund’s wine philosophy is to craft wines of authenticity and distinction, with intense detail in the vineyards, and minimal intervention in the cellar to allow vineyard and terroir expression, to create wines true to the cultivar. Gentle winemaking allows the expression of the natural elements bestowed upon Welgegund and careful extraction of aromas, colour and flavour. All the fruit was picked by hand into small crates, an extremely labour-intensive exercise when harvesting old bush vines. The grapes were de-stemmed and sorted using state-of-the-art Pellenc grape receiving equipment, a gentle but effective process that keeps both the berries and the stalks intact. Extended cold-soaking for 48 hours ensured good colour and flavour early on. Fermentation was partly natural, with different yeasts added for the desired complexity. Both the Cinsault and the Grenache completed malolactic fermentation naturally. A large portion of the wine was aged unoaked, to retain fresh fruity aromas, with the balance aged for 14 months in 3rd and 4th-fill French oak barrels. The wines were not fined and only roughly filtered during the bottling process.
“We were so impressed with these two niche cultivar bottlings that we pulled out all the stops with exquisite packaging – bold imported bottles, simple and elegant wrap-round labels, regal wax seals and numbered bottles,” continued Friedrich.
WELGEGUND HERITAGE WINES CINSAULT 2017
Single vineyard special release
In the vineyard and the cellar: This wine is produced from 44-year old southwest-facing dryland bush vines planted in 1974 with an extremely low yield of 1.2 tons per hectare. 20% of the Cinsault was fermented whole-bunch, with 80% de-stemmed. A large portion of the wine (80%) was aged unoaked, to retain fresh fruity aromas, with the balance aged for 14 months in 3rd and 4th-fill French oak.
Winemaker’s tasting notes: Clear and bright with fresh purple hues, the nose displays an array of fresh berry aromas: cherries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries with a hint of spice. The palate is soft, juicy and consistent, showing liquorice and dark fruit flavours with subtle savoury notes, silky tannins and a persistent clean finish. “Our purest expression of Cinsault.”
Serving suggestions: Serve slightly chilled and enjoy with a charcuterie board in summer or game fish such as seared tuna or sushi. The Cinsault also pairs fantastically with ostrich fillet, venison and other game dishes.
Limited release: Only 1768 individually numbered bottles have been produced.
Retail price: Welgegund Heritage Wines Cinsault 2017, adorned with a vivid crimson wax seal, is currently only sold at the cellar, for R340 (including VAT) per bottle but will soon be more readily available nationally.
WELGEGUND HERITAGE WINES GRENACHE NOIR 2017
In the vineyard and the cellar: This wine is produced from a high-altitude west-facing dryland bush vine vineyard planted in 2006. 50% of the wine was aged unoaked, to retain fresh fruity aromas, with the balance aged for 14 months in 3rd and 4th-fill French oak barrels.
Winemaker’s tasting notes: Bright and exuberant with light violet hues, the nose displays an abundance of blackberry and raspberry aromas with some subtle floral notes. The palate is soft, lean and refined, showing dark fruit, chocolate and black forest cake with a hint of cloves, powdery well-integrated tannins and a balanced, seductive round finish.
Serving suggestions: Serve slightly chilled and enjoy with roasted wild mushrooms, cured or cold-smoked red meat and marinated Mediterranean vegetables. The Grenache also pairs beautifully with dishes cooked with earthy spices such as paprika, cloves and cumin.
Limited release: Only 1777 (the year Welgegund was established) individually numbered bottles have been produced.
Retail price: Welgegund Heritage Wines Grenache Noir 2017, bedecked with a splendid violet wax seal, is currently only sold at the cellar, for R340 (including VAT) per bottle but will soon be more readily available nationally.
MORE ABOUT WELGEGUND HERITAGE WINES
Established in 1777, Welgegund was once the property of Cecil John Rhodes, the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in the late 1800’s. It was one of the best fruit farms in the Boland and was eventually consolidated after his death into Rhodes Fruit Farms. Since taking ownership in 2014, Gavin and Kelly Brimacombe have left no stone unturned in a sweeping transformation of Welgegund. The Manor House, dated 1820, has been authentically restored and refurbished and is now, once again, a beautiful family home. The Manor House is featured in the book “The Old Buildings of the Cape” and is on the register of Provincial heritage sites. Older heritage buildings on the farm are also being sensitively restored to provide a tasting room and guest suites.
The new dawn at Welgegund includes the comprehensive rehabilitation and rejuvenation of the 35-hectare estate embracing the fynbos and dryland vineyards, including the very old chenin blanc (1974), cinsault (1974) and Carignan (1979) bush vines, as well as a new winemaker. Friedrich Kühne, ex Doolhof wine and vine man, also joined the team in 2014, bringing with him a wealth of experience gained in South Africa, France and the USA, and a passion for producing high quality wines. Emy Mathews was appointed Sales and Marketing Manager in March 2018. From wine farming stock in Hungary and with fifteen years’ experience in the South African hospitality and wine industries, Emy has the energy, passion and knowledge to elevate the Welgegund wine brand.
Other Welgegund Wines include the barrel-fermented beautifully round Welgegund Heritage Wines Chenin Blanc 2017 from 44-year old dryland bush vines and the Welgegund Heritage Wines Providence 2015, a fruit-driven Rhône-style blend of 60% Shiraz, 30% Cinsault (1974 vineyard) and 10% Carignan showing tremendous body, concentration and structure. Both these wines were honoured at the 2018 National Wine Challenge incorporating Top 100 SA Wines, the Chenin receiving Double Platinum as well as Top 100 SA Wines 2018 status and the Providence awarded Double Gold.
Welgegund have also produced their first olive oil, a lively and fruity extra virgin olive oil cold pressed from a blend of selected olive cultivars grown on the historic Cape farm.
A VISIT TO WELGEGUND HERITAGE WINES
A visit to Welgegund, a hidden treasure off the beaten path with a rustic appeal and spectacular mountain backdrop, offers an authentic wine and olive oil tasting experience. A scenic 50-minute drive from Cape Town, Welgegund is a must for connoisseurs and wine lovers. Wine and olive tastings that showcase the intense deliciousness of this estate’s produce can be enjoyed by appointment only. Take the time and make an appointment. It’s well worth it!
Welgegund Wine Farm, 119 Berg Street, Wellington, South Africa
Tel: 021 873 2123 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org