The Blaauwklippen Valley is situated in the famed “golden triangle” area of Stellenbosch which is known worldwide for producing top-quality red wines for its terroir. I visited two private label estates namely Stellekaya and Graceland Vineyards. Both of these wineries are open by exclusive appointment only and specialise in red wine production for mostly the overseas market.
This area is not greatly publicised and yet it is such a picturesque valley, what a hidden gem! What’s more, is that both of the wineries I visited are run by women.
Graceland Vineyards Blaauwklippen Valley
Susan & Paul McNaughten opened up her home on this beautiful estate for a select few, including myself, to taste the full range of Graceland wines. The winery is situated along the Stellenrust road which is easily accessible by a gravel road driveway, well signposted.
I tasted through 5 red wines and the last, a dessert wine, was saved to savour at lunch.
- Strawberry Fields
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Three Graces
- Dessert wine
The tasting was professionally conducted by Susan herself and the wine was poured with the help of her family. Each person was given a tasting list with a pencil to make notes on each wine. The wines ranged in price from R190 – R300 which was really quite affordable for these quality wines. All the wines use minimal intervention in the cellar with time spent in the barrel averaging 24 months. No filtering or fining is conducted on the wines and so what is left is as natural as you can get it.
We joked about the coincidence of how “Graceland” is associated with Elvis Presley and “Strawberry Fields” is associated with the Beatles though both of these coincidences were not intentional. I really do like the name “Strawberry Fields” which in fact not only speaks to the fields in the area where the vineyard is grown but also the subtle strawberry notes of the wine. How lovely.
To contact Graceland Vineyards:
+27 82 4412680
Stellekaya Wines Blaauwklippen Valley
Just a 5-minute drive from Graceland Vineyards is Stellekaya Wines run by Jane and Dave Lello. Their beautiful family home is set in the middle of their vineyards and is completely off the grid and energy saving.
Be careful if you put this winery in your GPS because it could take you to their cellar which is in a totally different location from the estate. You will know you are in the right location when you see the pink farm-style house on the top of the hill, it really does stand out! The hill up to the estate is not paved and so sports cars with low suspension are not recommended.
Jane and Dave Lello joyfully poured the wine themselves and expressed their passion for the industry ensuring their vineyards are well maintained. Their two Rottweilers ensure that the fields are kept safe from the likes of baboons who are known to venture down the mountain to much on a grape or two.
We tasted through six wines namely:
- The new Cygnus Rose
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Orion Blend
- The Orion Blend reserve
We were also fortunate enough to meet with the female winemaker, Rose Kruger who produced the Sangiovese Rose (a maiden vintage for the estate). It is absolutely fabulous and has even won gold at the Rose Rocks competition 2021. Well done team!
I was so impressed by the superb quality of these wines of which are well sought after overseas. Stellekaya means “Home of the Stars” and so you will recognise the Stellekaya wines by the different depictions of star constellations on their labels. The wines range from R129 – R590 a bottle.
To contact Stellekaya Wines:
Tel: 066 549 6015
Rounding it all off with lunch at Mont Marie
The day simply was not complete without a fabulous lunch at Mont Marie. We enjoyed three courses accompanied by the wines of Graceland and Stellekaya. To contact Mont Marie visit https://www.montmarie.co.za/
I had such a wonderful time with these amazing women who took it upon themselves to collaborate an event to promote their boutique wineries in this hidden gem of a region. The event was so successful that I am sure more will follow. Follow them on social media to keep abreast with the next tasting event.