Wine with heart: Rocking a new vision

Wine with heart: Rocking a new vision
Nicolette Waterford

Nicolette Waterford

The Quoin Rock wine estate is situated in Stellenbosch at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain. In addition to the farm in Stellenbosch they also own a larger property bordering the African continent’s southernmost point, which was acquired at the end of last year by Ukranian businessman Vitaliy Gayduk, who has a great passion for horses and South African wine in particular.

Since the change of ownership, a new vision for the estate has been put in place along with plans for raising the Quoin Rock profile to that of a globally-recognised wine producer. Capital investment has resulted in changes to the winery with more substantial developments under discussion while sustainability and the natural environment have been adopted as key components of the executive team’s goals. Included in the plan are a corporate social investment initiative and a programme to fully develop eco-tourism potential at both properties too.
Driving the rejuvenation of Quoin Rock is an executive team comprising managing director Thys Lombard, an MBA-graduate with extensive local and international wine marketing experience; winemaker Narina Cloete, who has been at Quoin Rock since 2008; and viticulturist Nico Walters, who includes in his career highlights 12 years at the renowned Rustenberg wine estate.

Quoin Rock is fortunate in that it has the best of both worlds. Not only does its Simonsberg and Agulhas properties occupy vastly different terroirs recognised for delivering excellent quality produce, but they are also situated in the oldest and youngest wine regions of South Africa, respectively.

Although Quoin Rock is a fairly young wine estate, the history of the land on which it is built, and the heritage that goes with it, reaches as far back as the origins of the Cape itself. This land is part of the original Cape wine-growing region. These hills and valleys have borne witness to some of the most fascinating events in the history of the Cape. One need only consider the eminence of Quoin Rock’s neighbours – Muratie, Delheim and Knorhoek – to appreciate this land’s contribution to South African wine heritage.
The vision is to produce balanced and elegant wines that age well – characteristics most often associated with the world’s best. Having produced good wines with limited support for some years, Quoin Rock is now enjoying renewed vigour and investment that puts it within reach of the target.

The recent streamlining of this portfolio has resulted in the creation of a speciality segment that houses the Methode Cap Classique pinot noir chardonnay blend, a second reserve 2009 blanc de blanc MCC to be released and a vine-dried sauvignon blanc dessert wine, resulting in a diverse, yet focused portfolio of wines that are available across South Africa and in key markets abroad.

As a philosophy, Quoin Rock strives to produce wines that are unique while retaining consistency and expression provided by excellent terroir. It achieves the goal by limiting interference and allowing nature to do its work from the vineyard to the cellar. Winemaking is kept as simple as possible without compromising on quality.
In the cellar, Quoin Rock is one of very few farms that prefer natural yeasts for fermentation to added yeasts that are generally employed in the wine industry. In addition to being a completely natural ingredient, the estate’s experience is that these yeast strains also add complexity to the wines.

The farms supplying the grapes for Quoin Rock wines have the benefit of superior terroir. It is their fertile, well-drained soils, and unique micro-climates that contribute to the balance and elegance of Quoin Rock wines and with this in mind, cellar practices of adopting a nature-sensitive and sustainable approach are echoed in the vineyards.

Biodiversity is encouraged in the vineyards with indigenous fynbos vegetation finding its way back into the actual vineyard blocks and respect for the environment and sensitive handling of fruit and wine is entrenched in workers on the farm who are trained in a production philosophy unique to Quoin Rock as part of a mentorship program. The farm is a member of the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative.

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