Waterkloof is something of a powerhouse on the local wine scene, with its first vintage under the brand name only released in 2005, and the restaurant rapidly rising to become the number one foodie destination in the country, this year.
Grapes had been planted on the farm that became Waterkloof since the early 1970’s, with a peak in quality production in the mid 1990’s. French wine merchant Paul Boutinot took over the property just before the 2004 harvest and produced that first Waterkloof vintage in 2005. A major new planting and replanting exercise was completed by 2008, with 53% of the 100 hectare farm under vines, and the rest set aside to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna. Biodiversity and biodynamic principles are important at Waterkloof – the team believes that the farm should be treated as a single living entity, and that every action has an effect on its systems. All the vineyard work – from pruning to picking – is done according to phases of the moon, sun and planet to maximise delivery from the vines. The theory is that with a natural balance in place, the wines will require fewer additions to shine, resulting in more flavour in each bottle.
The iconic Tasting Room, Restaurant and state-of-the-art gravitational cellar were constructed in 2009, offering one of the best locations – and views – in the Cape from the Schapenberg mountain. The open-plan venue houses the tasting room, kitchen and dining area for the wonderful restaurant – backed by the staggering vista. For warmer days, there’s a balcony area and in winter, the fluted central fireplace is a big hit.
There are two tasting options – a difficult-to-select Premium Tasting (R70) of 6 wines from the 15-strong Waterkloof, Circumstance, Circle of Life and Seriously Cool ranges and the Standard Tasting (R40) of 6 wines from the smaller and more commercial Reventant & False Bay Ranges, comprising 8 wines in total. It may well all be marketing hype, but there’s something different about the expressions of all the wines – the Sauvignon Blanc and Cape Coral Rosé seem especially crisp, Shiraz is exceptionally spicy and the rare single-varietal Seriously Cool Cinsault rather earthier than most other, more strawberry-lead versions out there. The tasting team is probably the most engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable in all the Cape – their passion shines through in every interaction, which is a welcome chance from the rote recitals which are so common in a lot of wineries today.
The Tasting Lounge is open Monday-Saturday 10:00-17:00 and Sundays 11:00-17:00 in summer, while it (and the restaurant) are generally closed on Mondays & Tuesdays from April – October for the winter season. In summer, the Lounge only closes on 25 December and 1 January.
For a really extravagant experience, take the ‘Bird’s Eye View’ tour of the estate. Depart from the V&A Waterfront by helicopter and enjoy a tutored tasting and cellar tour on arrival, followed by an epic seven-course Degustation Menu in The Restaurant, before returning to the V&A by helicopter once more. The cost is R13 800 per person, all-inclusive, with 48-hour pre-booking, essential.
Sir Lowry’s Pass Road,