News – Page 3

Q & A with our winemaker

With another harvest behind us and the grapes safely in the cellar, our winemaker Jan van Rooyen shares some of his thoughts for the future in a Q & A session.

  1. Tell us a little bit about the vineyards and progress there?

I’m really happy with the work we’re doing on our Pinot Noir vineyards as they are planted on a great south-facing slope closest to the sea, which just screams quality.  I also personally love Pinot Noir, so it is a treat to work with these grapes.

The small block of Petit Verdot (1 ha) is destined to become an integral part of our flagship Bordeaux-style blend, the Baccarat for which I always strive to get the best grapes possible.  Basically the better this grape is, the better our blends will be. 

This brings me to our “bread-and-butter” line, the Cabernet/Merlot, which will eventually possibly  feature a little “injection” of Shiraz to add some complexity.   Although you don’t want to mess with a winning recipe, one can always improve!

The Viognier has been coming along for about three years now and it’s already playing a positive albeit tiny role in some of the whites eg the Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve and the Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve.  Further evolution could include the use of Viognier in our top reds as well.

  1. I believe there’s a new dessert wine in the offing?

One of the exciting new products planned for this year is the Natural Sweet Viognier which will be released under the Above Royalty label.  We were lucky enough to bring in a wonderfully healthy ripe Viognier for the 2017 vintage and with our flexible approach to the dessert wine product line, we would bottle it as a natural dessert wine to replace the current fortified Liqueur Wine which is nearly sold out.

  1. You are phasing in the new Estate labels. How do you feel about them?

The new packaging with its distinctive diamond shape is simple and modern and suits the wines we’re planning to make this year and over the next few years.  The label has been received very well in trade and we love the elegance and clarity of the design. 

  1. Update us on the progress made with the Pinot Noir Chardonnay Blend.

From its inception as the Vintner’s Blend, this wine has been a winner.  Three years ago we decided to include it in the Estate range and add some quality elements to it, which has paid off.  This is an exciting wine to work with as it’s evolving all the time, and it’s great to see wine consumers enjoying it too.  The signature has been established and it’s coming more and more into its own with every new vintage.

  1. Avontuur is doing a lot of work to promote Cabernet Franc amongst wine lovers. What is your take on this varietal?

I am proud to announce that we have now been making a single varietal Cabernet Franc at Avontuur for 21 years!   The first one was produced in 1996 and was mentioned in the 1998 Platter’s.  Our 2014 is being released and it’s a fruity wine with fine tannins, elegance and that typical “fynbos” character always prevalent in our Cab Francs.  This year sees the third Cab Franc Carnival sponsored by Avontuur Estate and it’s growing every year, although we do try to keep it niche and upmarket to suit our farm and intimate family-orientated approach.

  1. Pinotage is our “national” grape. What do you think about the Avontuur version?

With new plantings coming nicely into their own our Pinotage is a quality product with a loyal fan club who support it throughout.  I would love to “play” a bit with the style as the diversity of Pinotage is becoming quite a driver in the category and the grape lends itself to experimentation, always keeping to our Estate positioning though.

Pippa Mickleburgh – Emperor’s Sale video

Pippa chatted about the yearlings for Friday’s Emperor’s Palace Select Sale.


The Emperor’s Palace Select Yearling Sale takes place on Friday, 21 April and we have three classy yearlings who will leave the farm on Sunday to take the long road north.

Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh is happy with the draft planned for this prestigious event.  “We have a half-brother to sprint queen Val de Ra called Cue the Music by Oratorio out of Minelli and a Var colt called Cizeron out of champion race mare Sarabande who’s spectacular colouring sets him apart, over and above his athletic ability.  We found a lovely pic of him and his dam which we’ve used with this story but today he’s obviously a fully grown handsome young man,” she says.

“Finally we are proud of a superb Oratorio colt called Dickens out of Classique Story,  who is a stakes producing- and winning mare.”

To see more of the yearlings have a look at our Stud Sales pages or click here:   Sales 2017

The yearlings will be available for viewing from the 18th and we hope to welcome our supporters at this important sale. 

Harvest 2017 successfully completed

It’s been a busy, hot and dry harvest with increased yield coming into the cellar in spite of the negative outcomes initially expected by the industry.  Winemaker Jan van Rooyen and the vineyard and cellar teams have been going basically non-stop since mid-January and it was with a huge cheer that the last bins were delivered safely to the cellar last Monday.

Harvest team 2017 celebrate the end of the harvest!

Three colts set for Emperor’s Sale

Visit our sales page on this site to see more about the three colts (2 Oratorios and a Var) who are set for the first of the big Gauteng sales at Emperor’s Palace on 21 April.

An affordable Var is a possibility!

If you would love to acquire a Var for your racing stable, here is your chance!  See you this weekend in Durbanville!

Cape Yearling Sale video – Watch now

Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh chats about the 4 yearlings set for the Cape Sale this coming weekend.


Oratorio’s 6yo son wins Gr 1 in Saudi

Former Zimbabwean and South African-based trainer Neil Bruss won Saturday’s Gr 1 SR250,000 King Abdulaziz Racetrack Champion Cup over 2000m on sand with the six-year-old Oratorio colt Gods Speed, who was ridden by Luis Morales.

Jumping from gate 7 in a ten horse field, the Abdulelah Abdul Aziz Almousa-owned horse had cover throughout and travelled well.

Morales made his move around the final turn and entering the 400m straight just had to overtake the pacemaker on his inside.

The good looking bay then surged into the lead and managed to held on from the charging pair Smoking Sun (Smart Strike) and Ibn Alnafees (Premium Tap).

Bruss’ latest stint in Saudi Arabia began last September and in 100 runs he has had 14 winners.

The veteran trainer is an outstanding horseman and has successfully raided Dubai with his Saudi Arabian-trained horses before.

In 2009 he sent out former Port Elizabeth horse Paris Perfect and the Argentinian-bred Muller to run third and fourth respectively in the Dubai World Cup.

Oratorio currently stands at Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm in Stellenbosch.  “Winning this race at 6 years old once again just proves the longevity of his offspring and bodes well for his supporters in South Africa too,” says Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh.

Oratorio’s son maintains unbeaten record


Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm’s exciting sire Oratorio looks to have an above average sort on his hands in the form of Sacred Oration, who made it two wins from as many outings when landing a juvenile plate convincingly over 1000m at Fairview.

Trained by Grant Paddock, the Patricia Devine bred colt had previously won on debut when scoring by three parts of a length over 800m -in the process, Sacred Oration became the first winner produced in Oratorio’s first South African crop of runners.

Out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Scarlet Causeway, Sacred Oration was a bargain R125 000 buy from last year’s Cape Premier Yearling Sale.

To date, Oratorio (whose offspring have earned over $50 million in stakes) has been represented by four first crop runners who have either won or finished in the money, and, with a number of really well bred runners yet to make their debuts, this number should rise substantially over the coming months.

The sire of 47 stakes winners (and more than 80 black type performers in total), Oratorio (whose offspring include 7 G1 winners) is well represented on the two upcoming yearling sales.
He has one yearling on offer at the Cape Yearling Sale at the Mistico Equestrian Centre next month – a half-sister to G3 Tony Ruffel Stakes winner Fantastic Mr Fox, and to Fort Winter, who ran fourth on debut recently (Lot 122).

Danehill’s champion son also has seven lots at the 2017 March Yearling Sale –including a colt out of an El Prado mare from the family of US G1 winner Wekiva Springs (Lot 7), a colt out of a 3 time winning daughter of Jet Master and G1 Cape Fillies Guineas winner Sport’s Chestnut (Lot 18), a filly out of a stakes winning daughter of Captain Al and G1 winner Roxanne (Lot 128), and a filly (intensely inbred to Danehill) out of a Danehill Dancer ½ sister to G2 Merchants winner Super Profit (Lot 212).

Alternative contact numbers for the Restaurant

The joy’s of farm life is that we sometimes have our cables stolen.

Please note our alternative contact numbers should you require them:

0836925601 OR 0765923351 OR 0835081525

It’s harvest time in the Boland

Harvest 2017 started off in January with the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being harvested for our Methode Cap Classique Sparkling wine.  The team is currently bringing in Sauvignon Blanc and the cellar is in full swing.

Our tasting room offers visitors the chance to taste some of the ripe grapes, so when you are at the farm, make a point of trying those!

Harvest time in the tasting room

Good luck for vintage 2017.  We hope it will be a good one.