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Grape Escapes

Plettenberg Bay: not just a holiday destination but SA’s new bubbly-producing region

By | April 23, 2017 | Category Travel & Leisure

Plettenberg Bay was named a South African ‘Wine of Origin Region’ by the South African Wine Industry in 2005 but, of the 16-odd wine farms in the area, only three – Plettenvale Wines, Packwood Wine & Country Estate and Bramon Wine Estate – currently have their own cellars and can be officially classified as wine estates. Most of the smaller producers outsource their grapes to other cellars for vinification or simply sell their grapes to other wine estates.

Bramon Wine Estate is probably the most recognised wine label from the Plett Wine Route as its tasting room is right on the N2 and quite visible to all who drive by. While still classified as a boutique estate, its 250-tonne cellar is the largest in the region. Owners Peter and Caroline Thorpe are seen as the wine pioneers of the area. ‘Peter thought Plett would be great for vines so we gaily went ahead and planted the first Plettenberg Bay Sauvignon in 2000. After a successful MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) was made in 2004, we got the panel of oenologists, soil scientists and viticulturists to name Plettenberg Bay a Wine of Origin area and to gazette it in 2005,’ says Caroline.

Illustration: Robyn-Lee Baatjies

They made their 2004 to 2007 vintages at Graham Beck’s Robertson cellar and the 2008 and 2009 vintages at Teddy Hall’s Koelenhof in Stellenbosch, but Bramon’s own cellar was built in 2010 and is now run by cellar master Anton Smal, who spent 20-odd years at well-known Stellenbosch bubbly producer, Villiera. Bramon also does the winemaking for neighbouring estates such as Newstead, Anderson’s Wines and Luka Wines, as well as newcomers Bosky Dell (labelled Gilbrook Wine Estate), That Place and Ernst Stoeckl.

The Plett climate is much cooler than Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. Doug Lund of Newstead Wines believes that the region has a similar climate to that of New Zealand. ‘Nestled at the foothills of the Tsitsikamma mountains, Newstead vines benefit from cool sea breezes and a climate similar to New Zealand, which is especially favourable for the varieties we grow: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,’ he says. Typical flavour notes found in the white wines from the area include fig, lime and passion fruit. ‘Due to the low pH of the soil, extra sulphur does not need to be added to the wines, resulting in cleaner, purer wines,’ says Caroline Thorpe of Bramon Wines.

To explore the Plett wine route visit

Photograph: Cara Lee Packwood

Peter and Caroline Thorpe

Bramon Wines tasting room

Featured photograph Cara Lee Packwood

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