Warwick is one of the Cape’s pioneering estates for many reasons, including the fact that it is home to the region’s first female winemaker, co-owner Norma Ratcliffe – a noteworthy achievement in the male-driven world of wine farming in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Such was Ratcliffe’s influence on winemaking in the Cape that she was also the first woman to become a member of the Cape Winemakers’ Guild and, to date, the only woman to have served as its Chairperson. Her status as the Cape’s ‘First Lady’ is immortalised in a range of four wines at the estate and lives on – even though the family has sold up to foreign ownership.
Warwick’s focus on the classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc also affords it a spot at the top end of the South African wine spectrum – but the estate produces plenty of other great varietal wines and blends, too. Despite having bought the farm in 1964, the first wines to emerge under the Warwick label only did so 20 years later, with the iconic three varietal Bordeaux-based blend – Warwick Trilogy – following two years later. Even today, Trilogy has a home on some of the world’s most exclusive wine lists and leading the estate’s awards charge on numerous international fronts.
The two tasting options offer the perfect summary of the estate’s products. Both the Standard Tasting (R50) and Exclusive Tasting (R100) offer the chance to sample six wines, though the latter has a heavy bias towards red wines, with just one white blend on the list. The tasting room is cosy and unpretentious and shares a wall with the restaurant – meaning that a variety of paired platters are available to complement tastings, along with excellent sit-down lunches a short hop away.
The opportunity to explore the farm in greater detail shouldn’t be passed up, with the ‘Big Five Vineyard Safari’ offering a fun, educational trip up through the mountain vineyards for a fun comparison between the world-famous Big Five fauna and the estate’s Big Five list of varietals – with accompanying tastings in a glorious setting. There are plenty of gourmet picnic options too, which show off the farm’s various beautiful spaces to maximum effect in conjunction with a selection of wines and the freshest produce – meaning that a visit to Warwick could quite easily be an all-day affair.
Ask about the opportunity to taste older vintages of wines during tastings – there’s normally at least an older vintage bottle of Cabernet Franc knocking about!
Off the R44
between Stellenbosch & Klapmuts