Rottcher orange wines are not to be confused with wine from the Orange River wine region. The Lowveld’s most delicious and unique export, orange wine came about through the blessed union of a missionary in KwaZulu-Natal, in need of communion wine, and an abundance of citrus plantations.

Did you know?

Enjoy a free tasting of Avalencia or Avalencia-ginger wine when you visit Rottcher Wineries.

Rottcher orange wine’s lineage goes back to Muden (now Greytown) when the Rottcher family established the Sonnengold Orange Winery, the first orange winery recorded in South Africa, in 1916.

Kurt Rottcher, a grandson of the missionary, took the practice of making wine from oranges with him when he moved to Heidelberg farm in White River in the 1950s.

Unlike his family’s syrupy, sweet libations, Kurt aspired to make orange table wine. His orange wine-making experiments produced potent dry, off-dry and semi-sweet wines that were very popular with the locals, perhaps more for the effects than taste.

In 1967, Kurt moved to the farm Magnifique off the White River/Nelspruit road and established Rottcher Wineries. On Kurt’s retirement in 1983, the new owners reverted to making an unfortified sweet orange wine, which they initially called Witrivier Medium Crème.

Later, the wine was renamed Avalencia, after the Valencia oranges from which it is produced. Though officially it may not be called 'wine', Avalencia, which is made from pure orange juice and cane sugar, is produced in the same way as wine.

It’s first fermented using very specific yeast, vat-matured for a minimum of six months, then fined, racked if necessary, filtered and bottled. Unlike wine, Avalencia does not easily oxidise, and matures well in the bottle when stored correctly.

As word of Rottcher Wineries' unusual wines spread, it wasn’t long before it was de rigueur for visitors, en-route to and from White River, to call in at the farm tasting room to buy Avalencia and Avalencia ginger-infused wine.

In 2008, under new ownership, Rottcher Wineries relocated to the busy Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in White River. in 2012, distiller Frank Theron bought the business. His future plans for the winery include the production of liqueurs and a boutique gin.

Legendary crooner, Frank Sinatra, is reputed to have said, 'Orange is the happiest colour.' Judging by the grinning patrons, departing with armloads of orange wines, in their distinctive ceramic carafes made by local potter Antjie Newton, it’s the happiest tasting, too.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Rottcher Wineries
Shop F6, Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre
Tel: +27 (0)13 751 3472

Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre
Tel: +27 (0)13 751 1540

White River Tourism Bureau
Tel: +27 (0)13 750 1073

How to get here

Reach White River by road, or fly into nearby Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. If driving from Johannesburg, take the N4 or the N12 to Nelspruit via Witbank and Middleburg. In Nelspruit, turn left onto the R40 to White River. Continue along this road and turn left at the 2nd set of traffic lights onto the R40 towards Hazyview (for approximately 5km). Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre is on the corner of the R538 and the R40.

Best time to visit

Rottcher Wineries trade from 9am to 4.30pm on week days and 9am to 4pm on weekends. Closed at Christmas and New Year.

Around the area

Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre also has a theatre, cinema and motor museum. Nearby is the Numbi Gate entrance to the Kruger National Park. Hazyview offers adventure activities aplenty, and in Nelspruit, there’s a national botanic garden, a casino, shopping and dining.

Tours to do

Tour Rottcher Wineries on-site cellar when you visit the shop.

Where to stay

Casterbridge Hollow is a new boutique hotel adjacent to the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre.

What to eat

Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre and the Bagdad Centre across the road, offer everything from pub meals and pizzas, to sushi to fine dining options. Look out for fresh subtropical fruits in season, grown in the Lowveld.

Best buys

In addition to their orange wines, Rottcher Wineries sells locally produced pottery.

Related articles