First of all, let me just say brrrrr… it’s the middle of winter so trust me to visit the coolest wine region in South Africa – Elgin. 😄🥶 Because it’s so so cold (high elevation and close proximity to the ocean) Elgin grapes ripen on their vines longer resulting in internationally awarded wines that burst with fruit, purity and complexity.
Today I finally visited IONA! I have been enjoying IONA wines since 2012 when I purchased a bottle at Cattle Barron and it was love at first sight! So I was super excited to finally visit!
The road leading up to IONA has about 5km of gravel road, meandering around the mountain at high elevation. You may feel as if you are completely lost but carry on, you will be rewarded when you arrive.
We met up with Brad Gold (MD), who took us up to the highest point on the estate.
IONA is 420 meters above sea level, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean – that’s high! And that’s cold! The land was once named “Geelbeksvlei”, after the yellow billed ducks that nest in the area around the property. I didn’t spot any of those but I did spot many eagles and baboons along with the five cows IONA keeps to make quality compost.
Until very recently in fact, IONA was once an unprofitable Apple and pear farm.
It was only in the 1990s that Andrew Gunn (owner) purchased the farm, conducted analyses on the property and found out that the land was ideal for vineyards!
With the focus initially on Sauvignon Blanc, with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the first vineyards were planted in 1998, followed by Chardonnay, Semillon and Pinot Noir.
the tasting room is big enough for about 12 people and is quite a modern setting – not many tasting rooms have a vintage Porsche inside!
You can enjoy wine tasting at the estate with bookings made prior. There are six wines available.
The Sauvignon Blanc was incredible! I could smell fresh black currant, green pears and guava quite predominantly, unusual for this type of wine but super enjoyable none the less.
Do not leave without sampling their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and One Man Band 😃
IONA is also well known for their non estate wines called Sophie and Mr P, which vineyards are not on the estate. Sophie is a Sauvignon Blanc dedicated to the workers of the land – Sauvignon Blanc was hard to pronounce by the locals in the Cape and so it was given the nickname, Sophie te’Blanche which was easier to pronounce and remember.
Mr P stands for “Pinot for the People” – made from younger vines and aged in older barrels. Showing all the characteristics of classic, high quality Pinot Noir at an affordable price
“wines are made in the vineyard, and that the best wines come from cool to moderate temperature climes, with low summer rainfall and low potential soils”.
Grapes are picked up to 2 months later than other wine producing regions in South Africa and in a short space of time from the first vintage in 2001, Iona, became one of South Africa’s top producers of Sauvignon Blanc.
“Our vineyards must be alive. We want to make lively wine. For this reason, no synthetic fertilisers are used, no snail pellets and no insecticides. We make all our own compost using biodynamic methods and preparations.
We keep five cows, which provide us with quality manure for our barrel compost and preparations. Winter cover crops between the rows – a combination of legumes, oats and clovers, nourish and mulch the vineyards in turn.
These natural methods of feeding, mulching and protecting our vineyards are an ongoing quest to nurture and express the individuality of the site and soil in a sustainable way.
Getting the best out of grapes starts in the vineyard. Our practices ensure vital vines and grape” says Andrew Gunn.
Unfortunately there is no restaurant or food available so I would recommend that you visit either before or after lunch.
I was lucky enough to be invited into the Gunn home where we enjoyed some hearty chicken pasta and salad lovingly made by Rozy Gunn. What a real treat!
Monday to Friday: 09h00-16h00
Weekends by appointment.
T. +27 (0)28 284 9678
Physical. Highlands Road, Elgin
Postal. P.O. Box 527, Grabouw 7160
Western Cape, South Africa