The Steenberg [Stone Mountain] Vineyards are to be found on the slopes of the Table Mountain massif in the Constantia Valley, the oldest wine appellation in the Cape of Good Hope at the southernmost tip of the African continent.
The farm is one of historic interest as it was granted to Catharina Ras who gave it the original name of Swaaneweide – feeding place of the swans. The ‘swans’ in question are the Spur-winged Geese which are still found on the farm now known as Steenberg and are indeed used in the logo of the winery and hotel.
In 1842 the farm became the property of Johannes Adriaan Louw whose family owned it until 1990. Louw is still today a well-known family name in the Constantia Valley. For 15 years, under the ownership of Johannesburg Consolidated Investments, the farm was redeveloped into a successful vineyard, golf estate – course designed by Peter Matcovitch – and the old Manor House with its leg of mutton convex-concave or ‘holbol’ gable became the centre point of a luxury hotel. Steenberg is currently owned by Graham Beck’s Kangra Group.
The old farm buildings, the 1740 Manor House, the ‘Jonkershuis’, the barn and the original wine cellar and the ‘werf’ have been immaculately restored and form the 24 suite 5 star hotel. Catherina’s Restaurant, situated in the original winery, is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves contemporary South African cuisine from a kitchen operated by highly acclaimed chef, Garth Almazan.
The vineyards of Steenberg are about 63ha in size of which 60% is planted to the white varietals Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Muscat de Frontignan. The balance is made up of the red varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. And importantly the red Italian variety, Nebbiolo. General Manager, John Loubser, anticipates all vineyards to be in full production by 2010.
In the state-of-the-art cellar senior winemaker Ruth Penfold builds on the successes of John Loubser and produces a range of wines that reflect both the varietal characteristics of the grapes and are made for food. Ruth is assisted by Alfred Dalicuba and Andrew Williams, both of whom have excellent wine background. Farm manager, Johann de Swardt and his staff, look after the vineyards and believes that their mission “is to run the farm with nature as our leading partner and teacher. It is a long process and sometimes difficult not to interfere too harshly, but as the balance gets restored, we will reap the benefits.”
Not easy for me to choose from Steenberg’s impressive array of wines, marketed with style by Anetha Homan. Sauvignon Blanc has to be the queen and it appears in many different guises from the entry level Klein Steenberg to the impressive Sauvignon Blanc Reserve and the Cape Wine Makers Guild Auction Reserve Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc. Blended with Semillon it is labelled Magna Carta, a 5 star wine in every respect. The Chardonnay based Steenberg 1682 Brut is the estate’s Methode Cap Classique. The reds include the flagship Catharina – named for the first owner – a Merlot, Shiraz and the ‘Italian’ Nebbiolo.
Steenberg has had an interesting history – the future looks even brighter.
Winegrowing area Constantia
Owner Graham Beck
General Manager Cellarmaster John Loubser