The Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners Experience
The Stellenbosch Winelands area is positively popping with amazing wine estates. Many are well-known names, situated in easy to find spots, but there are also plenty that are slightly off the beaten track and sometimes a little harder to come by if you don’t know that they’re there. That’s one of the reasons we were excited to experience the Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners event, which took us to three boutique wineries along this route.
The Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners Event
First up, Kleinood, home of the well-known Tamboerskloof range of wines. It was a bitterly icy day and the rain had gloriously been falling the night before, so after a short and muddy trek through the vineyards, we were welcomed into the Kleinood tasting room. The picturesque courtyard in front of the tasting room is dotted with rose bushes, ducks in the pond (who clearly don’t feel the biting cold) and a small but very warm firepit, all enclosed by a pretty stone wall.
As mentioned, Kleinood is the home of Tamboerskloof wines and they specialise in crafting incredible Syrahs. Winemaker, Gunter Schultz, was on hand doing the tastings and guiding us through their range, from a superb 2006 Syrah, right through to the flagship John Spicer.
Other than reds, there is also a Katharien Syrah Rosé and a Viognier in the range. Delicious snacks were offered during the tasting and a standout was the Syrah-braised Springbok – utterly moreish.
Everything at Kleinood seems to have been done with utmost care and consideration by its owners, the De Villiers family. From the minimalist labels that are hand printed, hand torn and attached to the bottles, to the award-winning De Boerin olive oil, as well as honey, produced on the farm. It is tough not to leave with at least a few mementos purchased from the Kleinood gifting cabinet!
Wine of the day: Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006
Notable mention: Tamboerskloof Syrah 2014
De Trafford Winery
Next on our meander, we ventured to the furthest point on the Upper Blaauwklippen Road, which is the location of De Trafford Wines, on Mont Fleur farm. The wine tasting room is set amongst the lush greenery of surrounding forests and is really beautiful.
The multi-levelled cellar and tasting room is lined with barrels and had various tasting sections set up. My cake nose never lies and so we headed straight down to start with their straw wine first, paired with a delicious slice of citrus loaf.
The straw wine has stunning notes of honey and treacle and remains fresh and juicy. De Trafford Wines were trailblazers in this style of wine, producing the first ever for SA! The 3V Straw Wine that we sampled is a blend of three vintages from 2011, 2013 and 2014.
We then headed upstairs to do a Cabernet Sauvignon flight, as well as sampling some of the wines from the Elevation range. The Trafford family own the De Trafford winery and the family home is signified in an elevation drawing (2D rendering) on the Elevation wine range label.
We paired our reds with a delicious Beef Bourguignon and a Mushroom Gnocchi from a food truck positioned outside the cellar for the day. Perfect for a cold winter’s day lunch!
Wine of the day: De Trafford Straw Wine 3V
Notable mention: De Trafford Elevation 393 2000
As we made our way back along the road, we stopped in at our final winery of the day – Keermont. The spot where the winery building now is was originally a spring water bottling plant (Fleurfontein) and adjacent to that is Keerweder farm. Portions of surrounding farms (Mont Fleur and Keerweder) were sold off and the names combined to create Keermont.
The young winery is owned by the Wraith family and winemaker, Alex Starey, has been there since day one. What started as a personal winemaking project for Alex in 2015 morphed into the creation of some truly fantastic wines and of the brand. The modern cellar and tasting area are stylish and you can book a tasting on a Friday if you plan to be in the area.
Alex took us through a flight of as yet unlabeled wines, starting with Riverside Chenin Blanc 2017; for its young age, it displayed surprising complexity and potential for ageing. Following a sample of Steepside Syrah 2015 and Pondok Rug 2015, we moved over to try a very special Vinoteque Steepside Merlot, planted in 1990 and bottled in 2005. Utterly delicious.
A confit trout canape paired with a tasting of Keermont Terrasse 2015, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay was also memorable.
Wine of the day: Vinoteque Keermont Merlot 2005
Notable mention: Keermont Riverside Chenin Blanc 2017
Why you should attend the next Upper Blaauwklippen vintners event
A specially organised event like the Upper Blaauwklippen vintners day is a wonderful way to get to know wines in an intimate setting. Ticket sales are capped at 100, which keeps it niche and special.
We loved how everyone at each farm had pitched in to be there to pour wine, answer questions and share their passion for their wines. This event provides the wineries with a chance to get to know some of their consumers and for buyers to purchase speciality releases at great prices.
Be sure to keep your ears to the ground for the next occurrence of the Upper Blaauwklippen vintners day and other similar events.