Plettenberg Bay nu ook wijnregio
|Plettenberg Bay aan de Garden Route in Zuid-Afrika is nu officieel een wijnverbouwende regio, net zoals Stellenbosch en Paarl bij Kaapstad dat zijn.
Dit gewilde kustplaatsje ligt ongeveer 530 km van de beroemdste wijnlanden van Kaapstad, in Zuid-Afrika . Sinds kort is deze plaats, gelegen aan een prachtige baai,het thuis van Bramon Wine Farm.
Deze wijnboerderij ligt in het bergachtige gebied net buiten Plettenberg Bay. Hier zijn de grondsamenstelling, het koele kustklimaat en de Zuid-Afrikaanse zon de perfecte ingrediënten voor lekkere witte Zuid-Afrikaanse wijn. De eerste wijnranken werden in 2000 geplant, met name Sauvignon Blanc. Met een verassend goed resultaat heeft men als noviteit ook champagne van de Sauvignon Blanc gemaakt. Bramon Wine farm zal zich in de nabije toekomst ook gaan richten op Pinot Noir.
Growing Wine Tourism on the Garden Route
New wineries on the garden route are linking wine and tourism on South Africa's number-one tourist route while tapping into the viticultural craze for cool climate vineyards. The winelands are going east with new plantings in the pipeline by Bramon and Vukani Wines at Plettenberg Bay and Herold Wines and Schoonberg in the new Outeniqua ward near George - supplying resorts, restaurants and specialist wine shops popping up along the garden route to meet tourist demand by the busload.
On a recent visit to Plettenberg Bay, we sampled a zesty bottle of Cap Classique billed as "Plett's own bubbly" - a wine with a cool green apple character as refreshing as a plunge into the sea - as well as local Vukani empowerment wines found on the restaurant wine-list at fu.shi. On asking the source, the owner of the chic Upper Deck complex pointed straight across the bay to The Crags. "These wines travel well" I quipped. The next day, I set out to visit the most easterly vineyards in the Cape.
Heading up the garden route towards Tsitsikamma National Park, a signpost to Bramon Wines pointed to the registered single vineyard that led to the demarcation of a new wine of origin district in 2006. Driving through five hectares of Sauvignon Blanc planted on a rocky ridge three kilometres from the sea, we came to the cellar bistro that is home of Bramon and Vukani Wines (a collaborative BEE venture with Graham Beck). Apparently, a few wattles were cut back on the farm track for the tour bus operators which include a visit to Bramon Wines in a garden route itinerary - followed by a ride on the elephants in the safari park visible from the vineyards.
"This is probably the first Sauvignon Blanc Cap Classique in the world" said Caroline Thorpe, the winemaker's wife who designed the label, over a tasting of "the last bottle" of the 2005 vintage. The first four vintages of Bramon MCC were vinified (2004-2007) at Graham Beck's Robertson cellar by Pieter Ferreira, Diner's Club Winemaker of the Year 2004 for MCC. It took 9 hours to transport the 18 tons harvested in early March 390 kilometres from Plettenberg Bay to Robertson by refrigerated truck. Production of Bramon MCC has increased from 1000 bottles in 2004 to 14 000 in 2007 (R110 at cellar-door - R160 on local restaurant wine-lists).
The long-distance logistics of vinification are no sweat for Peter Thorpe, an ichthyologist by training and "an alchemist" (according to his wife) who majored in bio-chemistry. After growing up on a wine farm in the Breedekloof, he's surfed back to his vinous roots, planting cool-climate vineyards in "good loamy and koffieklip soils" after clearing the old wattles on the farm they acquired at The Crags in 1996. New plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will add complexity to Bramon MCC (Bramon is an amalgam of Bram and Manon, the Thorpe's two children).
Church land is being leased, cleared and planted in the Crags as part of Vukani Empowerment Wines - the non-profit arm of Vukani-Ubuntu. Trust member Peter Thorpe says more Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are being planted on 14 ha with space to plant up to 70 ha in the Crags. A training initiative assisted by Elsenburg is assisting black grape growers to farm the grapes for the Vukani range - funded by sales of Vukani wines currently made by Graham Beck. Plans are underway to export the wines under a fair trade label to the UK - and to build a six-storey wine cellar to make Bramon/Vukani wines on the site of the Crags ravine to be completed in 2008.
Thorpe estimates the BEE project will employ up to 50 people once completed - with more vineyards to be identified inland in the Swartberg suitable for black growers to produce the red varieties for Vukani wines. Next he's considering making a still Sauvignon Blanc wine on the advice of Peter Ferreira who reckons the quality of the grapes is awesome. Bramon MCC 2006 won a bronze medal at Veritas - and is due to be released shortly. Vukani is living up to its name, "waking up" the world to the new easterly terroir of Plettenberg Bay. Surf's up for cool climate Sauvignon Blanc.