Tucked into the Outeniqua Mountains is Herold Wines, one of the Garden Route’s lesser known wine estates. The estate is currently under the stewardship of Nico and Maureen Fourie, a couple as welcoming and unpretentious as the wine from their cellar.
Nestled at the foot of Cradock Peak, the highest peak in the Outeniquas, this former hops farm are now home to some 26 000 vines. With an elevation of 650m to 700m and an average temperature of 16°C, the vineyards offer something unique. This was exactly what drew Mark Chandler to the farm. With his firm believe that the cool mountain mists would offer similar conditions to Burgundy – France, the Pinot noir region of Europe, he bought the farm in 1997 and planted the first Pinot noir vines in 1999. The first wine, Pinot noir of course, was bottled in 2003 by his sister Vivien Harpur.
In 2009 they passed the baton to Nico and Maureen. Nico’s life is a testimony that new beginnings are always possible. Nico farmed with chickens and tomatoes in the Limpopo province before uprooting to the Western Cape in 2009. Nico took over the reins and Herold Wines Have since gone from strength to strength.
Today the estate bottles about 18 000 litres of wine, the flagship still being the Pinot, although they also grow Sauvignon blanc, Syrah/Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Nico, like Vivien before him, has no background in viticulture and winemaking. With help from Vivien and advise from many a winemaker in the Klein Karoo wine region he decided to take a very minimalistic approach to his winemaking and you can “taste the year the vineyard experienced in the wine.”
The vineyard is planted on the sunny north-westerly slopes. Nico uses no fertilizers and pesticides and, while drip irrigation has been installed, Nico has had no need to irrigate to date. The high mildew threat is managed through responsible spraying and the roaming baboon troop is kept at bay by an electric fence. With Nico’s passion for the environment and keeping things as natural as possible, is it any wonder that all his wines are bottled in recycled bottles?
All the grapes are grown on the estate with the exception of the John Segon Red Blend, which he started bottling at the request of a former neighbour from Waboomskraal, a wine the family now honours as a tribute to the late John Segon. The delightful Laatlammetjie is made from Hanepoot grapes from the Langkloof. Most of their wines are sold from the estate and the John Segon Red Blend is only available at Herold Wines or the Hops Valley Farm Stall.
The tasting room blossomed under the capable hands of Maureen. A small restaurant has been built onto the tasting room and tastings are done at the table – a special touch that enhances the hospitality of the gregariousness of the farm. A light menu offers a selection of food that perfectly complements the wine of your choice.
The small restaurant offers the ideal location for small functions, birthday parties and even intimate weddings but be forewarned; you will linger much longer than you may have planned!
Since they arrived on the farm they have restored three old cottages that are fast becoming a very popular holiday destination for city dwellers craving to get away from it all. They don’t market the cottages anywhere but word-of-mouth advertising has been so effective that a fourth cottage will soon open its doors.
With Nico’s small herd of Bonsmara cattle and his daughter’s small flock of sheep, Herold Wines is a modest and unassuming destination who will only show her true self, much like the Pinot noir she is known for, to those who are willing to pay attention and wait for her to reveal herself in all her facets.
Herold Wines is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00.
Should you be brave enough, you can reach them by taking the old Montagu Pass.
For those who prefer highways to byways, take the N9 to Uniondale and turn off to the village of Herold, a road that will leave you with only about 3km of gravel road.
You can contact them on 072 833 8223
Visit their website http://www.heroldwines.co.za/
Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Herold-Wines- 321458621296726/
Or read more about them on TripAdvisor http://ow.ly/E6YT3038pZp
Pictures: RianaH @ Shutterbug Photographic