Future of Plett winemakers full of sparkle

BOOMING TRADE: Newcomer Newstead and a selection of the wines available from Bramon in the Crags
BOOMING TRADE: Newcomer Newstead and a selection of the wines available from Bramon in the Crags

PICTURESQUE vineyards, warm hospitality and most importantly, good vino is at the heart of Plettenberg Bay’s burgeoning wine industry.

Now gearing up to host the first Plettenberg Bay Wine and Bubbly Festival in October, these wine makers are doggedly working at proving they have what it takes to compete with wine tours in the Western Cape.

Good news for those in the Eastern Cape as travelling time is slashed.

The wine industry in Plett started a mere 14 years ago when Peter Thorpe opened Bramon in The Crags area and today, a remarkable 16 vineyards are operational.

Not only are they operating, they are also innovating.

With the wine and bubbly fest, from October 6 to 12 on the cards, guided horseback tours through the winelands are available and slackpacking tours are just about to start. Vineyard owners are dead set on the area becoming known as a sparkling wine route of note.

Pioneer of Plett’s wine industry, Peter Thorpe, planted the first vines, a sauvignon blanc, in 2000 effectively starting an industry many never believed could be so successful outside the Western Cape.

But Thorpe beat the odds and Bramon’s award-winning Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling and still wines paved the way for a plethora of new vineyards in the area.

The Plettenberg Bay Winegrowers Association now strongly urges all farms in the area to produce MCCs in order to market the sparkling wine route – and most seem keen to do it.

Newer kid on the block, Newstead Lund Family Vineyards, has heeded the call and is now producing a stunning MCC with the first batch produced last year.

However, the farm’s first harvest, a sauvignon blanc, was produced in 2012, with a chardonnay also available.

Newstead now also provides guests with a superb wine tasting experience that includes scrumptious cheeses, humus, fig preserve, pate and breads.

Seeing the massive potential to draw more visitors to the region, Plettenberg Bay Tourism has also come to the party and with most of the vineyards in the area signed up for the Wine and Bubbly Festival, visitors will experience cellar tours, themed lunches, wine tastings, culinary lessons, estate tours and picnic lunches in the vineyards.

For the more adventurous, Hog Hollow Horse Trails and Tamodi Lodge will take guests on horse rides through the wine estates and guided mountain bike rides along the wine route.

The growing international trend of slackpacking, where porters take care of your luggage and you stay in top-notch accommodation at night, is on the cards for the wine route with tourism authorities putting the final touches to the trails.

Ahead of the Plettenberg Bay Wine and Bubbly Festival, many of the wine farms will be represented at the Port Elizabeth Wine Show at the Boardwalk from July 31 to August 2.

You might want to look out for these guys – their wines are good, they are winning awards and they are determined to grow their industry. – Angela Daniels

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