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Breedekloof’s Valley of Plenty: Where every vine tells a story

Written by Anton Pretorius for WineLand.co.za

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Breedekloof Valley is home to only large-scale wine producing cooperatives. Anton Pretorius recently discovered that this picturesque wine hamlet, including the charming Slanghoek Valley, offers a lot more than meets the eye.

“Most Capetonians think the province’s border ends at the Huguenot tunnel,” is a quip that the friendly folk of the Breedekloof Valley are fond of using. “After that, it’s pretty much Johannesburg,” says a jolly patron at a local watering hole in Rawsonville, followed by a belly slap and a thunderous laugh.

The Chenin Camaraderie

If you’re a lover of South Africa’s foundation stone, namely Chenin Blanc, then you’ll have another good reason to visit this valley. Breedekloof’s winemaking ‘wizards’ are especially fond of brewing Chenin Blanc in their cauldrons, producing some of the best and interesting styles of this cultivar that’ll have you smacking your lips for more.

 

The region is so immensely proud of its Chenin Blanc that a handful of the region’s winemakers often band together to blind taste and promote the region’s signature variety. They’re called the Breedekloof Makers, a congregation of the valley’s winemakers committed to emphasising the quality of wines being made in the region, as well as accentuating the diverse terroir pockets.

 

The camaraderie and warmth between winemakers (and their ability to put competition, rivalry and politics aside) was an interesting sight to behold. Nowhere else is this kind of solidarity among winemakers evident, especially not in the more established wine regions (which I’ll refrain from mentioning) where the winemaking community is renowned for being ruthlessly competitive, cut-throat and sometimes a bit snooty.

 

The Breedekloof Tour

We met with wonder women winemakers Lieza van der Merwe (Merwida Wine Estate) and Elizma Visser (Olifantsberg Wines). Olifantsberg’s Lark Chenin Blanc 2017, Blanc 2016 (blend) and Silhouette 2015 really captured the estate’s unique location, diverse soils and natural expression of its vineyards.

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