Fine art and wine at Saronsberg Cellar, Western Cape
I’ve seen the lady at the lake in countless tweets and Facebook posts, but her tall frame is far more striking when you stand at her feet, gazing up at her steely, meditative face.
This Angus Taylor sculpture is titled, From Earth From Water, and whether you find her intimidating, eerie or ethereal, she certainly sets the tone for the impressive art and wine that you will find at Saronsberg Cellar in Tulbagh in the Western Cape.
The tasting room is like a contemporary fine art gallery, with sculptures, paintings and furniture leading your eyes across the massive, open, double-storey hallway. Even in the middle of winter, when the pergolas are covered in skeletal vines and the black clouds hang menacingly low on the craggy mountains, there is a warmth and intrigue that makes you want to stay a little longer.
Winemaker Dewaldt Heyns greeted us and took us on a tour through the cellar, explaining the process of hand harvesting, fermenting and how to detect the red berry flavours.
Dewaldt grew up on a grape farm and, after completing his studies at Elsenburg Agricultural College (Stellenbosch) in 1995, was appointed assistant winemaker at Rust en Vrede. He joined the Saronsberg team as winemaker in 2003 and has played a significant role in building and establishing the new cellar – which has its own share of artwork, with two CowParade pieces playing guard over the vats.
What a novelty it was to taste wines straight out of the barrel! Thanks to Dewaldt’s little wine thief, we were able to taste the difference between Shiraz in French oak and American oak barrels.
While the Shiraz in French oak still had another four months to go in the barrel, it was already soft, with light floral notes and hints of dark chocolate, clove and plum. The Shiraz in American oak had a distinctly sweeter finish with an essence of vanilla. We then sampled the Provenance Rooi, a slightly herbaceous Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
Back in the tasting room, Dewaldt introduced us to the estate's flagship wine, the Saronsberg Full Circle, a beautiful blend of the farm’s finest Shiraz, Grenache, Mouvedre and Viognier. He explained that Shiraz grows particularly well in this valley and works with their style of winemaking. He then introduced us to what I believe is not-so-secretly his pride and joy – the Provenance Shiraz. For only R95 a bottle, the Provenance Shiraz consistently performs above its price class and is often awarded better than the premier wines of other farms.
The newly renovated Saronsberg Vineyard Cottages offer a cosy stay with beautiful views of the farmlands, a horse paddock and giant blue mountains that are often dusted with snow in the winter. The fireplace is a welcome spot to congregate with a warm blanket and glass of Saronsberg wine. Guests can choose from one- or two-bedroom self-catering cottages.