Welcome to Wellington!

Wellington is an extraordinary enclave that is home to the James Sedgewick Distillery, Bain’s Kloof Pass, as well as a significant proportion of South Africa’s Chenin Blanc.

Over 4,500ha of the Wellington wine district is under productive vine, Chenin Blanc contributes 22% to this vital industry.

As far back as 1657, Wellington was called the Limiet Valley due to the imposing mountains that prohibited further inland travel. This historic area was developed into a region district in 2012 and wards were demarcated in 2017. Doolhof Wine Estate is currently the only producer in the Liemietberg ward.

Natasha Williams is a talented winemaker who has worked alongside internationally renowned winemaker, Corlea Fourie at Bosman Family Vineyards for several years. Bosman Family Vineyards has vineyards in two wards, Bovlei and Bergriver.

  1. The Wellington Way

“Making Chenin Blanc in Wellington has always been a delight, the canvas we have been given includes well-drained soils,” Natasha Williams says.

 “The weathered granite that originates from the granite pluton of the Groenberg Mountain and surrounding hills is different to the rest of the region where the soils are derived from Sandstone,” Natasha explains.

The people in Wellington are as warm as the climate. Natasha says, “the climate is warm, with a significant temperature differentiation between day and night.”

“The warmth is also our ally,” she says, “our Chenin speaks of a generosity which is key in our expression.”

  Left: Natasha Williams, Winemaker

  1. Best of Both at Bosman

Wellington is situated 146m above sea level, the highest vineyards are at 386m and the lowest are elevated at 90m. Annual rainfall is 737m.

“The Bovlei vineyards are planted on the foothills of the Groenberg with the Limietberg Mountain range as a spectacular backdrop,” Natasha says.

The Bosman vineyards in this ward comprise of only 180ha, with the remainder comprised of mountainous land and nursery, rootstock and blueberry fields. Natasha says, “the varietals that are mostly planted are Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.”

In parallel, the Berg River cluster of farms is located 15km north of the Wellington village.

“The farm comprises 155ha and the 31 vineyards planted are mostly Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz,” Natasha says.

  1. When in Wellington

With its origins in the Loire Valley, in France, Chenin Blanc has found favour in South Africa with several successful iterations used in brandy, dessert wine, sparkling wine, still wine and even as a base wine for spirits.

Some Chenin Blanc from Wellington that Natasha recommends includes: Doolhof Riversteen Chenin Blanc 2017; Welgegund Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2019; Jacaranda Estate SALT 2017; Wellington Wines La Cave Chenin Blanc 2018 and Loose Cannon 2017 from Bosman.

Natasha describes the Loose Cannon 2017 as a fabulous Cap Classique. In parallel, Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc is made from the third oldest Chenin Blanc vineyard in the country and remains a fine ambassador for Chenin Blanc.

While Wellington has a bounty of Chenin Blanc, Natasha also suggests that Wellington from other regions is worth raising a glass to. Natasha recommends: Aan De Doorns Chenin Blanc 2020; Kaapzicht 1947 2017; Badsberg Chenin Blanc 2020; Under Oaks Chenin Blanc 2020 and Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2019.

  Left: Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc

  1. Sicily in South Africa

Bosman Nero has partnered with South African businessman and actor Thapelo Mokoena.

With its roots firmly planted in Wellington, this Sicilian grape has synergized with Wellington’s Mediterranean Climate.

“In an effort to find varieties that do well in the hot and dry climate as climate change becomes a reality, Petrus Bosman brought the first plant material to South Africa in 2004,” Natasha says.

“This grape thrives in the warm growing region of Wellington, it is resilient to both heat and drought, producing luscious, concentrated fresh fruit – even on the hottest day,” Natasha explains.

  Left: Thapelo Mokoena

  1. Head to Hermanus

Alongside its Wellington property, Bosman Family Vineyards is also the proprietor of property in Hermanus, roughly 4km from the Atlantic Ocean.

“The Bosman Hermanus (De Bos) property was purchased in 2001 and the first vines were planted in 2006,” Natasha says.

This Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Property, located between heaven-and-earth is 270ha large, with 50ha under vine, 50ha under protea and 180ha dedicated to conservation management. Eleven vineyards are planted, dedicated to predominantly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Weisser Riesling.

  1. A Heart in Hermanus

“Apart from being part of the Bosman Family Vineyards winemaking team, in 2017, Bosman allowed me to start my own wine brand, Lelie van Saron wines, which gives tribute to the town where I grew up,” Natasha says.

Saron is a town near Tulbagh district in the Western Cape.

“It’s a platform where I can express my own winemaking philosophy and my love for cool-climate wines, the grapes are all sourced from the Bosman Hermanus property,” Natasha says.

While the maiden vintage was a 2017 single vineyard Chardonnay, Natasha’s prowess continued to be revealed further.

In 2018, she worked on a Syrah clone selection for her Lelie van Saron brand.

Natasha explains, “I studied the vineyards throughout the growing season. Based on the style of wine I had in mind, I made my (clone) selection. The varietal thrives in the cool climate, where it has a longer handing time. There is a month-long difference between the Wellington and Hermanus picking dates.”

According to Natasha, the resultant wines have good fruit expression, usually at lower alcohol levels with bright acidity – which make them suitable for longer aging.

  Left: Lelie van Saron Syrah

  1. Bosman Adama

Bosman Adama is the largest vine nursery in Africa. More than 350 combinations of 80 cultivar clones are grafted annually.

“The month of May is the start of the new cycle of the vine, at Bosman Adama, this is the period within which the long rootstock shoots are harvested for the next generation of South African vines,” Natasha says.

Many of the skilled vine grafters have been grafting vines for generations.

The Adama Foundation Trust, owned by Bosman Adama workers was established in 2013 with the intention to drive socio-economic development for workers and their families.

Adama Wines is a largely black-owned company, owned 30% by women.

Praisy Dlamini, the General Manager and winemaker of Adama Wines says that for 2020, HER wines were sourced from Wellington, although Adama Wines has the privilege of sourcing from many facets of the Western Cape.

  Left: Praisy Dlamini & Natasha Williams

“What started as a project has progressed to a company that is managed by 8 women and a General Manager alongside an Office Administrator. This year, we have grown from processing 4900 tons of grapes to 8700 tons with the new addition of HER Wine Collection as a brand,” Praisy says.

- Blog by Tshepang Molisana