De Grendel – Latch onto Quality

Written by: Larry Gould 

It is my first visit to De Grendel Wine Estate, but from personal experience I am fully aware of their excellent Rosé and Merlot wines.  ‘De Grendel’ in Dutch translates to ‘The Latch’ in English and it is easy to unlock the reason for the quality of the wines produced at this quite spectacular estate.

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Without doubt the vines rooted on a unique terroir, situated 350 metres above sea level, and only 7 kilometres from the Ocean are comfortable that they are in a perfect location. The grapes are stroked by cool sea breezes from that Ocean, which can be seen from the vantage point of the splendid modern yet classic wine tasting area with its excellent presentation of a large modern wine cellar.

In fairness I had already formed an expectation of something special, as the elegant long tree lined avenue that leads up to the winery sets a sense of quality, long term tradition and the signs stating this estate is also home to the famed Holstein stud cattle, sheep, grain, as well as the vines, explains the vast unspoiled grazing areas visible on the journey.

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It is when arriving at the tasting venue that the panorama, below the elevated building, provides the visitor with the most magnificent vision of the Ocean and the City backed by a remarkable clear picture postcard view of Table Mountain.

I meet the Cellar Master, Charles Hopkins, a mountain of a man exuding personality and a captivating passion for his environment. Hopkins, who came from the Graham Beck Wine Estate, explains he joined this third generation family owned farm and he was allowed to develop and design the modern cellar, which he is pleased to add used the principle of Feng Shui in its construction.

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Hopkins suggests I look up the awards the farm has garnered during its 18-year existence. I mention my personal enjoyment of De Grendel Roséand I am not surprised to hear that starting with 500 cases in 2006 the production is now at 8,500 cases.

The cellar tour with Hopkins is not only full of information on how all the 12 varietals of wine are made, but also his pride in the team that makes de Grendel so successful. During the visit he insists we meet Joseph, who was voted the Cellar Worker of the Year and we are informed he can also present a wine tasting very professionally. He also introduces us to the vivacious Winemaker Elzette du Preez, recently returned from a marketing trip to China.

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Hopkins, explains that the initiative for the development of wine at this family owned estate was by baronet Sir David Graaff, now in his seventies, and while still very hands on his son has taken over the day to day reins. Two years ago they added a restaurant to the facilities and here once again a sense of tradition, with the old family photographs and other symbols of the family’s history portraying a classic environment with a sense of the history of this farm. I conclude eating and sipping Grendel wine at this location, while drinking in the majestic view, tells me the Graaff family had and still have great vision.

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