Wine News – Page 4

Avontuur Brut wins Silver medal

We were over the moon when we heard just after the weekend that our hand-crafted MCC Brut N/V was awarded a silver medal in the 2016 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

It’s a pale pink blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which is just perfect for a celebration or to enjoy on a sunny day on the terrace.

It’s available for tasting daily in our tasting room and we’d love to share it with you.  You can also start off the day with a slap-up breakfast and a glass or two of this in our restaurant!  Hope to see you soon.


Triple gold for Avontuur wines

Jubilation all round this morning when we got the news that three Avontuur wines have been awarded Vitis Vinifera 2016 Gold medals in this annual local wine competition.

The Gold for Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve 2015 didn’t really come as a surprise as this wine has been a winner since its release a few months ago, with an IWSC Bronze medal already featured.  The Cab/Merlot 2013 is adding to its medal haul with two gold medals now featured on this bottle where the Pinot Noir/Chardonnay sports only this one – but it is a shiny gold award!


According to winemaker Jan van Rooyen he’s extremely happy with all the awards, but the one for the Luna is especially close to his heart as he’s put a lot of effort into bringing this wine back to where it should be – one of SA’s best wooded Chardonnays!

All three wines are available in selected stores in the Western Cape and Gauteng, as well as in the tasting room which is open daily for tastings and sales at the Estate between Stellenbosch and Somerset West.  We hope you pop in to share in our achievements!


Rich medal haul for Avontuur wines

Winemaker Jan van Rooyen and his team are thrilled with recent awards for some of this Helderberg Estate’s wines.

First up a fortnight ago was the Gold Awards 2016, who awarded a Gold medal for the 2013 Cabernet/Merlot which is one of the Estate’s big sellers.   “This is a popular easy-drinking style of wine, for an affordable price, but I like to believe that it over-delivers on the price,” says Jan.

This week the International Wine and Spirits Competition’s medals were announced and the Estate’s highly rated and much-loved Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve 2015 was awarded a Bronze medal in this prestigious international competition.

“But the one I’m most excited about is the Silver for the 2012 Minelli Pinot Noir Reserve,” says Jan.  “Stellenbosch can make wonderful Pinot Noirs although we’re not as famous for this varietal as the Hemel-and-Aarde valley region near Hermanus.  I love making Pinot Noir and this award is a personal achievement for me,” he concluded.

According to the organisors of the IWSC the South African wines did extremely well and standards were higher than ever, making it a real achievement to scoop a medal in this huge competition.

The Minelli 2012 is not yet released at the farm, but will be available for tasting soon.  In the meantime the 2011 vintage is flying the flag for Pinot Noir.  However, the Cabernet/Merlot 2013 and Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve 2015 are both available in the tasting room for tasting and sales.

Employment offered: Tasting Room Positions



If you love wine, have at least two years of experience in a wine tasting room and are a good sales person, we’d like to hear more.  Our buzzing tasting room needs a 2IC on a daily basis, and it could be you!

You will also need to work two weekends per month and assist with wine events, tastings, festivals and the many activities which take place on the farm. The position would suit a young-at-heart, energetic and keen wine marketer, who needs a permanent position as a stepping stone into the industry.


Our busy tasting room is the heart of our winery, and we love to employ keen, enthusiastic wine lovers to keep our clients and visitors happy, especially over the summer season.   We’re looking for a team of casual staff to assist and will offer training and experience in this fun position.

The openings are mostly for weekends and public holidays, but some week days and evenings as well if it suits your schedule, with events, festivals and special tastings part of the job.   You must be available over November-February as that is our busiest time!

A basic wine qualification and/or some experience with wine sales and marketing would be an advantage.  Would suit over-18’s, students or gap year interns.

Let us know if you’re interested – we’d love to meet you!



  • Send us a 1-page CV with your qualifications and experience.
  • Tell us why you want the job!


Contact Details:



Estate video highlights wine and horses

Early in 2016 we were visited by The Grape Escape to make a video about the Estate, concentrating on the wines we produce.  The video has now been released and can be seen here!

The Grape Escape – Avontuur Estate

Chardonnay Experience with our Winemaker rocks!

A group of twenty wine lovers were fascinated by winemaker Jan van Rooyen’s presentation at last month’s Chardonnay Experience tutored tasting when fun facts and a vertical tasting of our premiere Luna de Miel Chardonnay range from 2005 to 2015, was an eye opener for many.

Here is Jan’s presentation, complete with maps and a music link!

The barrel fermented Chardonnay of Avontuur Estate is named after the Argentinian thouroughbred mare Luna de Miel, foaled in 1974. The name is Spanish for “honeymoon”. She was purchased as a broodmare in 1982 by the late Mr. Tony Taberer and brought to Avontuur Estate thouroughbred stud where she graced Avontuur for 18 years before she passed on at the age of 27, and is now buried on Avontuur soil.

Today, we will taste and experience 5 vintages of this special wine: the 2005, by Willie Malherbe, the 2006 by Willie and Adéle v d Merwe, then the 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Jan van Rooyen.


Before we start let us also involve the sense of sound by listening to the piano sonata #14 in C sharp major composed by Beethoven (also known as The Moonlight sonata…)

Although Beethoven called this piece “sonata in the manner of fantasy”, the name Moonlight sonata was given by the german music critic and poet, Ludwig Rellstab in 1832, when he likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne, 5 years after the death of Beethoven.

(note: Beethoven’s first name was also “Ludwig”)

Beethoven composed the sonata in 1801 and in 1802 dedicated this piece of music to his pupil, the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi…it was not a commissioned work, but simply beautiful music dedicated to a woman…he was in his thirties then.

Taste the 2005 and 2006 LdM

Luna de Miel 2005 – Alc 13.5%, R.S. 10.4, T.A. 5.2 pH 3.7 – 75% natural ferment, 8 mo in barrel

Luna de Miel 2006 – Alc 13.7% R.S. 6.5 T.A. 5.7 pH 3.6 – 75% natural ferment, 8 mo in barrel

2005 vintage report – warm and dry weather up to January, a heatwave hit Stellenbosch in the middle of January, followed by a cool spell and thunderstorms a week later

2006 vintage report – early summer winds, gale force in the Western Cape, plus heat waves late Feb were preceded by a cold, wet winter and a cool, damp spring

Origin of the Chardonnay grape:

We know now that this grape and the wine from it has been made famous by the Burgundy region in France. Also, infamously, some RSA winemakers smuggled some vines back home, thinking that it was Chardonnay…BUT, it turned out to be Auxerrois…!

Now this is interesting, because both the Auxerrois and Chardonnay grapes are siblings from the same parents. i.e. Gouais Blanc (now extinct, but originally from Croatia…) and good old Pinot Noir.

As a matter of fact, to this day, wine is made from Auxerrois in France, Luxembourg and Germany along the Mosel river – and in one of those areas, the name “Chardonnay” is used as a synonym – as Asterix, the Gaul, said once: “these Romans are crazy…”

Mosel river on map of Germany

(I say this, because it is said that Gouais Blanc was brought to France from Croatia, by the Romans…!)

Back to Chardonnay: apparently the grape was named after a village called Chardonnay, in Macon, Burgundy. The earliest reference to Chardonnay wine was made by the Cistercian Monks in 1332. They planted Chardonnay en masse and wanted to distribute the wine all over France.

BUT: a winemaker from Israel claims that the Chardonnay grape actually hails from the Samaria region (or Shomron) in Israel and that the French crusaders brought it over to France. Furthermore, he explains that the name Chardonnay is derived from two Hebrew words meaning “the gate of God”

Map of Israel for Chardonnay Experience

Taste the 2013, 2014 and 2015 LdM

Luna de Miel 2013 – Alc 14%, R.S. 1.9, T.A. 5.3 pH 3.4 – 10 mo in barrel

Luna de Miel 2014 – Alc 13.5%, R.S. 2.6, T.A. 5.0 pH 3.4 – 10 mo in barrel

Luna de Miel 2015 – Alc 14%, R.S. 5.0, T.A. 6.3 pH 3.37 – 10 mo in barrel

2013 vintage report – a cold, wet winter followed up by a cool spring and the warmest December in 48 years gave an earlier and shorter harvest

2014 vintage report – again a cold and wet winter preceded a cool growing season with widespread rainfall in November and January gave an outstanding harvest with regard to crop size and quality

2015 vintage report – the driest and earliest season since many years, after a cold, wet winter, the above average warm weather in August resulted in earlier bud break, the crop was smaller, but of a very good quality

The Lunar calendar

This calendar is based on the cycles, or phases of the moon, whereas the Gregorian calendar is solar based on the revolutions of the earth around the sun.

Although both calendars are very ancient and their use dates back to centuries BC, a German biodynamic practitioner, Maria Thun, developed a biodynamic planting calendar based on the lunar cycles in the 1950’s.

According to this calendar there are root days, leaf days and flower/fruit days…

It was subsequently discovered (?) that our sensory ability to appreciate wines is also affected by these cycles, and that on a fruit or flower day, white wines will taste better, than on root or leaf days… (root and leaf days are ok for reds…)

“Passionate about Cab Franc” – Avontuur’s Michael Taberer

“At Avontuur we planted the first Cab Franc vineyards in the mid-eighties, soon after the varietal was brought to this country,” says Avontuur owner Michael Taberer.  “Take this passion further to some of our best wines like the flagship red, Baccarat which always contains a percentage of Cabernet Franc,  and you have a clear reason for Avontuur’s involvement as the sponsor of the second Cab Franc Carnival which takes place at the Estate on Saturday, 21 May”

17 Wineries are presenting their Cab Francs for tasting and for sale at the event which takes place on the terrace in front of the winery, weather permitting. The wineries are: Avontuur Estate, Cape Chamonix, CK Wines,  Druk-My-Niet Estate, Hannay Wines, Hermanuspietersfontein, Holden Manz Vineyards, Jakob’s Vineyards, KWV,  Lynx Wines,  Mitre’s Edge,  Oldenburg Vineyards, Ormonde Vineyards,  Raats Family Wines,  Romond Wines, Whalehaven and Warwick Wines.

Over and above the fact that fans can interact with winemakers and owners at this intimate event, live music, food trucks, breakfast or lunch from the Avontuur Estate Restaurant an tutored tastings of the best 6 Cab Francs SA has to offer, makes up the day.

Six wineries celebrated their Awards as the Top 6 in the first inaugural Cabernet Franc Challenge. The Top Six are in alphabetical order:  Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap 2012, Holden Manz Cabernet Franc Reserve 2014, Jacob’s Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2012, KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2012, KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2013 and Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2010.  The Top Six Cabernet Francs are exclusively available through as a mixed pack selection, whilst stocks last. Click HERE  for deliveries anywhere in SA.

Tickets: or +27 21 855-3450.





Avontuur hosts 1st Cab Franc Challenge

As the second Cabernet Franc Carnival, sponsored by Avontuur Estate, draws near, the organisors decided to create a matching award mechanism to further highlight the quality of the varietal as produced in South Africa.


Cabernet Franc Challenge logo smallerAll Cabernet Franc producers are invited to enter as many of their wines as they see fit, as long as it contains a minimum of 85% of the varietal for the Cab Franc Challenge 2016. The closing date for entries is 4 March 2016.

A blind judging process will take place on Wednesday, 6 April at Avontuur Estate under the capable direction of Panel Chair Christine Rudman with the assistance of four expert judges, and the top 6 wines will be announced on 20 April at an intimate early dinner at the Farm.

The six winning wines will be available at tutored tasting sessions at the Cabernet Franc Carnival at Avontuur Estate on Saturday, 21 May from 11h00-17h00. After the Carnival, a limited quantity of the winning wines will be for sale as a 6-bottle gift box from . The price will be confirmed once the winners are announced.

Challenge Coordinator Celia Gilloway said many suggestions had already come from entrants as the competition gathers momentum. “One suggestion is that we choose one winner and runners-up and award a first prize medal next year for example. Quite a few wineries have shown an interest in a “older vintage” category as well,” she says.

To find out more and get hold of an entry form, contact Celia at or 082-782-1977.

Pinot Noir/Chardonnay on special this month

We have a real winner on our hands this month with a great special in our tasting room.  Buy 2 bottles of the Pinot Noir/Chardonnay 2015 and get an extra one free!

It all started out as a “Valentine’s ideas brainstorm” and we just thought the soft pink blend would be a perfect fit for the theme.

With its melon and strawberry aroma and interesting smoky palate, this wine is one of the more serious blends on the market, falling within that popular Chard/Pinot category.   It’s also a great food wine, pairing perfectly with sushi, smoked meats, grilled salmon and seafood in general.

Make sure you pop into the tasting room this month, and for only R136 you get to take 3 bottles home.  (Normal price:  R204).   Valid until 29 February 2016.



Winemaker’s blog – all about the harvest!

Winemaker Jan van Rooyen chats about the harvest on 11 January with the first grapes arriving in the cellar on the 13th.

Winemaker’s Blog…

It so turns out that this harvest is another follow-up record-breaking one because of the very early starting date: in 2015 we experienced the earliest date, i.e. 16 January, in the history of Avontuur and this year we will bring it forward by another 3 days…to 13 January !!

This, together with the early heat waves we experienced end 2015/early 2016 as well as later than normal snowfall in the northern hemi-sphere is surely a sign of our changing climate, or what ? (El Niño and the human effect on global warming seems to be a reality…)

We have been told that in the near future there will be new “virgin” soils planted to wine grapes and that traditional areas will become unsuitable, so these forecasts were perhaps not just “spook-stories” after all ?

So, what does this mean for us winemakers?

Well, I remember that many years ago (was it in the 1980’s?) it was said by one Evita Bezuidenhout, that we should “Adapt or die”, (and I thought this was a satirical-political comment…did not know that Pieter-Dirk Uys was such a forward thinking “Boerseun”.)

I think that it simply means we have to do what the situation requires:  apply your mind, don’t forget the basics and think creatively to adapt to the task (and climate) at hand.

We should change the way we have been treating our beautiful vineyards for the past decades, keep looking for the ideal combination of cultivar/rootstock/terroir so as to embrace and use what we have been given to work with. (Pity that the researchers have not given us more ideas on this…)

At Avontuur Estate we have a great team and we are still in an area (or climate) that is excellent for premium reds, plus, there are some cool pockets of terroir for whites, so never fear, your winemaker is still here, same-same but with a difference, as should be expected.

Cheers to the 2016 wine harvest and what it will bring to us – I am ready for it: and if I do things differently, then so be it…!!