A new dawn for Welgegund Heritage Wines
Including the launch of Welgegund Heritage Wines Chenin Blanc 2017 and Providence 2015, a Rhône-style blend
Nestled at the foot of the magnificent Hawequa mountains at the end of an oak-lined cul-de-sac in Wellington, lies Welgegund Heritage Wines. Welgegund means ‘well-bestowed’ and you don’t have to venture far to experience the fruits of its blessings. A place of natural beauty, with heritage buildings dating back to the early 1800’s and a unique fingerprint of terroir and climate, this family-owned boutique wine farm has seen major restoration over the past 4 years under new ownership.
Established in 1777, Welgegund was once the property of Cecil John Rhodes, the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in the late 1800’s. It was one of the best fruit farms in the Boland and was eventually consolidated after his death into Rhodes Fruit Farms. Since taking ownership in 2014, Gavin and Kelly Brimacombe have left no stone unturned in a sweeping transformation of Welgegund. The Manor House, dated 1820, has been authentically restored and refurbished and is now, once again, a beautiful family home. The Manor House is featured in the book “The Old Buildings of the Cape” and is on the register of Provincial heritage sites. Older heritage buildings on the farm are also being sensitively restored to provide a tasting room and guest suites.
The new dawn at Welgegund includes the comprehensive rehabilitation and rejuvenation of the 35-hectare estate embracing the fynbos and dryland vineyards, including the very old chenin blanc (1974), cinsaut (1974) and carignan (1979) bush vines, as well as a new winemaker. Friedrich Kühne, ex Doolhof wine and vine man, also joined the team in 2014, bringing with him a wealth of experience gained in South Africa, France and the USA, and a passion for producing high quality wines. Emy Matthews was appointed Sales and Marketing Manager in March 2018. From wine farming stock in Hungary and with fifteen years’ experience in the South African hospitality and wine industries, Emy has the energy, passion and knowledge to elevate the Welgegund wine brand.
Two award-winning wines produced from ancient dryland bush vines are currently making their debut, the barrel-fermented beautifully round Welgegund Heritage Wines Chenin Blanc 2017 from 44-year old vines and the Welgegund Heritage Wines Providence 2015, a fruit-driven Rhône-style blend of 60% shiraz, 30% cinsaut (1974 vineyard) and 10% carignan showing tremendous body, concentration and structure. Both these wines were honoured at the 2018 National Wine Challenge incorporating Top 100 SA Wines, the Chenin receiving Double Platinum as well as Top 100 SA Wines 2018 status and the Providence awarded Double Gold.
Welgegund have also produced their first olive oil, a lively and fruity extra virgin olive oil cold pressed from a blend of selected olive cultivars grown on the historic Cape farm.
Although historically a fruit farm, it is as a wine farm that Welgegund has truly come into its own, thanks to the ideal combination of terroir and climate. The ancient decomposed granite of the foothills yields vines that produce intensely flavoured fruit ideal for creating the very best wines. The breezes funnelling down the valley from the Bainskloof Pass moderate the extremes of the climate. The old dryland bush vines offer extremely low yields of fruit (average of 2.4 tons per hectare) with exceptional concentration.
Welgegund’s old blocks of chenin blanc, cinsaut and carignan form part of the new and exciting Old Vine Project, an industry initiative dedicated to recognising the special character of the Cape’s wine heritage and to preserving these beautiful old vines. Vineyards more than 35 years old are being honoured with Certified Heritage Vineyards plaques, and wines made from these heritage vineyards will proudly bear the Old Vine Project Heritage Certification Seal – A World First!
The wine philosophy is to craft wines of authenticity and distinction. Whole-bunch pressing provides low yields of the best quality juice. Gentle winemaking allows the expression of the natural elements bestowed upon Welgegund. With quality the bedrock, the focus is on growing cultivars uniquely suited to the fingerprint of the farm, Rhône-style varieties, and launching limited releases only in very good years. The body and backbone contributed by the mature vines are complemented by fresh fruitiness derived from more recent plantings. Top quality niche cultivar wines will soon be making their appearance, namely a Cinsaut and a Grenache.