South Africa Exposed: Exploring the wines of the Breedekloof Valley

Breedekloof Valley

USATT explores the diverse stories and inimitable terroirs of uniWines’ Vineyards and interviewsThe Vineyards of uniWines in Breedekloof Valley, South Africa, are truly remarkable places to behold.   Travelling east out of Cape Town, through the Huguenot Tunnel under the Hawequas Moutains, the beautiful Breedekloof Valley stretches out with the Matroosberg Mountain further still, looming on the horizon. With pastoral country painted in vineyards, country manors intermixed with homestead hamlets and farm land juxtaposed against rough outcrops, the vista is anybody’s idyllic painting of tranquility.  The exceptional geography also lends itself to a diverse range of soils and both coastal and continental climates – the perfect conditions to grow brilliant wines.

Down in the Valley, there are over 22 wineries busily attending to visitors and producing their delightful wines.  The Vineyards of uniWines, comprised of Ankerman, Palesa Wines, Meander, Groot Eiland, and Daschbosch, each have their story to tell and represent their own unique heritage.

Ankerman WinesAnkerman wine

Ankerman wineA little left of centre. Says who exactly? Normal is as normal does in the Breedekloof Valley. In the Breedekloof Valley people take your most peculiar attribute, give you an affectionate nickname and forget your real name. It’s a place where people understand that the earth can give you all the resources you need. Where even time is told by the fall of the Horologekrans shadow. A valley where the mysterious Malkopklip turns in the soil every night, on the stroke of midnight.

The Ankerman lifestyle range is a top quality, value for money wine that encapsulates the quirks and eccentricities of life in the valley and gives the drinker some authentic tales to tell.

Meander Wines

Meander wine

Meander is the easy drinking wine for the unpretentious drinker. Take a minute to soak it in. Relax and enjoy the moment.

meanderTake an afternoon nap on the grass. Jump into a swimming pool with your clothes on. Walk around barefoot. Wake up as late as your body chooses. Ignore the tick of the clock.

Know that there’s always time for one more with friends. Laugh loudly, cry deeply, dance, fall and stand up again.
Embrace life with an open heart.

Palesa Wines


Pales_winesPalesa reflects the magnificent balance of qualities that characterise women. The softer virtues of compassion and empathy complimented by the stronger virtues of determination and willpower. It specifically embodies the richness and fullness of South African women. Their unbreakable spirit and exceptional durability.

African women are the mothers of the nation, the pillars of strength. They are the country’s conscience and the social glue that keeps us all together.  They create change which is what Fairtrade is built upon. Through our Palesa sales we support various community projects and positive change.



Groot WinesThe unusual name Groot Eiland, meaning big island, is derived from the fact that our cellar and its farms are literally surrounded by the water of the great Breede and Molenaars rivers.

Groot Eiland is an expression of all that is good in the soil, vines and terroir of the Breedekloof Valley. Groot Eiland offers you an introduction across all varietals. It is a quality, vineyard specific wine, that ages well.

Daschbosch Wines


Dasch Plicatilis

Dasch exanima
Dasch Procavia

USATT Interview uniWines’ Heinrich Venter

What are the business strengths of uniWines in terms of innovation in the marketplace? 

A winemaking tradition and history dating back more than three centuries blends the restrained elegance of the Old World with the accessible fruit-driven styles of the New World, making for varied and exciting wines which eloquently express the unique terroir, extraordinary diversity and fascinating people of the Western Cape. uniWines’ strength lies in our market-focused approach rather than a production approach, as well as our large scale (4th largest production in South Africa) and diverse offering. This allows us to consistently explore new trends and adapt to what the consumers demand. Be it with packaging or product, we aim to offer products that offer “something extra” to the consumer. Our company is structured in a way that lessens the red tape that makes it difficult to respond to these demands, by making multilateral conversation easier and thus increasing flexibility.

What does it mean to be Fairtrade partners? And what is the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative?  How do you leverage these business practices in terms of educating the world about what is important? 

We have a saying “Fairtrade is not a hand-out, but rather a hand-up approach”. Fairtrade certified wine sales mean greater opportunities for workers in South Africa. We are actively doing our part as FT partners in the Breedekloof, having not only build two after-school computer and day care centers for the laborers’ children but also by recently acquiring a nearby farm which is 100% FT (all shares belong to the FT partners/laborers). We see it as possible the best means to uplift the communities who are dependent on the wine industry’s success and secure a future for their children.

The BWI (Biodiversity in Wine Initiative) is an industry-wide conservation initiative to help preserve our natural flora and fauna, indigenous to the Cape. The Cape is the world’s richest and smallest floral kingdom with over 9000 different plant species (6000 of which is found nowhere else in the world) and recognized as a World Heritage Site. Since about 95% of wine growing in South Africa takes place in this area, these indigenous species and their ecosystems have increasingly come under threat because of agriculture, urban development, and invasive alien species. In 2004, an industry-wide initiative was launched to re-establish and conserve these ecosystems. By committing 10% or more of their farms to conservation, producers become “BWI Champions”, but BWI Membership could also be obtained by committing to protecting their remaining highly threatened natural areas. Over 126 000 hectares of the natural area have been conserved by BWI producers in less than four years, substantially in excess of the total area under vines (currently around 102 000 hectares). BWI adds its value when it comes to tourism and wine marketing. The Cape has frequently been in the (international) news, voted as one of the top tourist destination in the world. The BWI assist in preserving the Cape’s natural beauty and creates a platform for the wine industry to adopt multi-dimensional marketing strategies, successfully engaging both the tourism industry and the wine industry.

What export markets to be the most receptive and why?

Until recently South Africa’s export markets have been quite “Eurocentric”. This has traditionally been a strong and stable market for us and continues to be one, but where we see the most growth is definitely in the Asian and African markets. The USA is also a major focus for us, given that it is the largest wine market in the world. Where the European and UK markets have matured, the wine trend under the African and Asian consumers have increased. South African wines are still relatively unknown in the US, even though I believe we are a perfect fit for the younger consumers emerging now, exploring new countries of origin, cultivars, and styles. Many African countries count under the fastest growing economies in the world and the Asian consumers have always had strong buying power. China, for example, will soon count under the list of largest wine producers in the world in terms of quantity, which will benefit the wine category as a whole in China, but the rest of the wine producing countries would need to rely on superior wine quality to remain dominant in that market. This is where we as South Africa and uniWines believe are strong suit lies quality of the offering.

What inventive support programs have you used for your brands in new markets?

Traditionally, only a handful of large wine and beverage companies in South Africa have had the means to finance and launch such support programs. uniWines’ strategy has always been to be present in our particular markets as frequently as possible. We will travel to our markets, meet with our clients and discuss how they feel the market needs to be approached. After all, your client (importer, retailer, distributor, etc.) knows his/her consumers and clients better than we do. We will then support their launch and subsequent promotional activities as far as we can.

USA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual trade-only event in New York City helping producers connect with wine, beer, spirits importers, distributors, retailers and press of USA.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now.

Revealing the Secret of Mystery Creek Wines

Winery Creek Wines

Hidden away from the world, in the Waikato region North Island of New Zealand, the award winning Mystery Creek Wine and Winery has been steadily writing its story.

After a decade of growing grapes in the central North Island and the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough, Garry Majors and Vicki Edwards finally found their dream winery, Mystery Creek Wines, in 1999.  The winery was something special for everyone involved and they worked around the clock to release their first official vintage in 2000 in order to truly celebrate.  With Chardonnay grapes from their Marlborough vineyards and some help from their dedicated team, they were able to build their production into a commercially viable venture.  The long wait and hard work finally paid off and their Chardonnay quickly gained notoriety. In 2001, they were awarded a Gold Medal from Liquorland, one of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest retailers, in their TOP 100.

Figurine Creek WinesSince then, they have expanded their grape varieties from Chardonnay to also include Pinot Noir, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Riesling, and Syrah. Thanks to the hard work of viticulturist Neil Redgrave and winemaker Dane Jarvie, their new ventures have been extremely well received.  With recent awards for their Pinot Noir in 2014, and earlier accolades for their newly released Syrah in 2008 (the first vintages of the extended line-up came out in 2005) the winery has been steadily building a reputation to go along with their headlining Chardonnay.

The Homestead
Creek WinesIn a converted wooden homestead surrounded by their signature 5 ha vineyard atop the banks of the Waikato River, the winery’s grounds are also home to a striking cellar door and the Angus Road Eatery.From its massive open fire pit and vaulting chimney and expansive deck overlooking the vineyards to the withdrawn dining tables, the stunning event space can whisk even the most serious visitors to a relaxed and tranquil state of mind.

Crossing the Ocean

Excited to send full containers of their wines to Australia, Mystery Creek went about building a solid demand for their wines in the larger, neighboring market.  The wines have continually found a home in the cellars of happy consumers, but perhaps the most intriguing part of Mystery Creek is that no matter what surprising shelf you find them on they are set on continuing to impress. The next step for Mystery Cove is set across the seas in North America.  In 2016, they plan on exporting their wines to the USA and showing the big market what’s so special about their little secret.  With premium wines, solid branding and a fairy tale story about a mysterious winery set against the beautiful hills of Waikato, we’re pretty sure they’re ready to make a statement.

Featured Tasting Notes


Pinot Noir Creek WinesReserve Pinot Noir – This wine exhibits aromas of plum, black cherry and licorice complimented by oak spices. The palate is complex and full bodied with plenty of fruit weight in the mid palate and softly textured phenolics. Perfect with red meat or rich tomato based dishes.

Creek WinesMarlborough Sauvignon Blanc – This wine exhibits pungent rockmelon (cantaloupe), passionfruit and grapefruit aromas complemented by subtle capsicum and green bean notes typical of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The strength of the wine is in its purity and balance between the powerful aromatics and the supporting acid structure.
This wine will pair well with any seafood and simply seasoned white meat dish; however, try pairing with any salty or sour accented flavours such as soy sauce or vinaigrette based dressings for a more exciting match.

USA_Trade_Tasting_Logo_SmallUSA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual trade only event in New York city helping producers connect with wine, beer, spirits importers, distributors, retailers and press of USA.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now.

Growing Excitement for one of Brazil’s First Microbreweries.

Brewery Microbreweries

In the beautiful health resort city of Amparo on the ‘water-circuit’ in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, Ashby Cervejaria (Ashby Brewery) takes advantage of the pure, crystal clear water from the ‘Serra da Mantiqueira’ to craft its exceptional line-up of beer.

Tasting the delights of roasted malt beers and inspired by North American and European breweries devoted to researching and brewing ‘gourmet’ varieties, Scott Ashby and Analise Marques founded Ashby Brewery in 1993 and started brewing beer using a ‘top-fermenting’ process to brew their pale ale, possibly the first brewery to do both commercially in Brazil.

20-Anos-Ashby-10003 Microbreweries

Scott Ashby and Anelise Marques at Cervejaria Ashby in 1993

The brewery has since become a leader in innovation in all of its activities. From revenue to production processes and ground-breaking distributor relations, Scott and Anelise have built their international business on the acute understanding of how to focus on the commercial side of their brewery while also following their passion to bring unique aromas and tastes to their growing consumer base. This balance has given them the luxury of being able to build a company based on enthusiastic employees and partners alike, all with their sights set on the international market.

expresso-do-chopp-cervejaria-ashby Microbreweries

The Ashby double decker bus is decked out with 4 custom coolers.

One of their more exciting growth periods began in 2010 when they outfitted a UK style double decker bus with four custom coolers and a stylized interior.  The idea to bring the Ashby culture to events around São Paulo and give their consumers the ultimate theme experience to go along with their popular beer was a tremendous hit.

Their flare for innovative marketing didn’t end there. In 2011, as an homage to the UK beer culture and as a novel way to bring the Double Decker theme full circle and make their brewery truly something special, they erected a tasting room designed after an English pub inside their factory to give visitors and brewers alike the chance to explore the beers in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.


The Ashby tasting room is designed after a traditional English pub.

The excitement keeps growing at Ashby.  Their explosion in popularity in Brazil has given the company the confidence to really push their borders.  As their brewery expanded through phases of contract brewing and draught (or Chopp as it’s known in Brazil) suppliers to full scale bottling and international distribution, Scott and Anelise developed an award winning formula.  In 2015, Ashby Their Pale Ale, Strong Ale and Weiss each received the Superior Taste Award Seal from the International Taste & Quality Institute (iTQi) in Brussels, Belgium.

It seems that growing world wide recognition and an abiding enthusiasm to share their secret recipes with the world won’t let the stunning landscapes and natural beauty of Amparo keep Ashby a local Brazilian secret much longer. Today, the brewery is preparing to expand into the US market.

Let’s take a look at the profile of their popular line-up which they will be exhibiting at USA Trade Tasting in March next year.

The Ashby Brewery Bottle Line-Up

bottle line-up

ASHBY PILSEN The Ashby Pilsen was carefully developed to meet the Brazilian palate. For this, some techniques and secrets of ancient formulations of Germany and the Czech Republic were incorporated to their original recipe to give the modern Ashby Pilsen a unique and special flavor. The result is an unmistakable bitterness, a translucent golden color and a perfect balance.

ASHBY PALE ALE (iTQi Winner) Ashby Pale Ale was the first of its style to be produced and marketed in Brazil and is back in a commemorative edition, bearing the historical label from the foundation year of the Brewery Ashby – 1993. The special malt combined with selected hops results in a light beer, with light and distinct bitterness.

ASHBY WEISS (iTQi Winner) Ashby Weiss is inspired by the traditional breweries dating back almost 10,000 years of the Bavarian region of southern Germany. Wheat is used in brewing and this weiss is particularly opaque. The Ashby Weiss has a creamy and lasting foam. Perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

ASHBY STRONG ALE (iTQi Winner) Ashby Strong Ale gets its roots from England, when its production was made exclusively by women who would sell it from their home. These places were called “Ale Houses” and soon became a meeting place. This strong ale is produced from a malted barley containing a yeast that works more efficiently at higher temperatures. The fermentation process is fast and provides fruity aromas when the process is halted when the esters are just right. A red beer with a strong and remarkable personality.

ASHBY PORTER Ashby respects the English tradition in making this extra dark beer. With its pleasant bitter taste and high carbon dioxide content, Porter can be simply labeled as a mixture of three other types of beers: Old Ale, Pale Ale and Mild Ale. After the invention of the roasted malt, this type of beer lost popularity and onle really re-emerged in 1980 under the name Porter: a tribute to workers in the port area of England who were big fans of the drink. With gentle strokes of chocolate Ashby’s Porter has a balance which tends to the heavy flavors.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now.

Pinotage Culture Embodied at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate


Diemersfontein is a truly special estate just outside of Cape Town renown for it’s informal grace and elegant beauty near the famous Wine Routes of South Africa, but it’s their wines that truly stand out.

Diemersfontein is situated against the impressive backdrop of the Hawekwa Mountains and boasts a panoramic view of Bainskloof and Du Toit’s Kloof, two iconic mountain passes that stretch out across the horizon.  Pictures of the breathtaking view from the manor, surrounding vineyards and wide open expanse will whisk you away to another world – a world where everyone has a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life…like an irresistible glass of Pinotage on a sunny afternoon.

The Country Estate

estate-historyCentral to the working wine estate, is the third-generation family manor house, known as the ‘Groot Huis’, overlooking magnificent gardens, which are reminiscent of an era when gracious living and tranquility were the order of the day. Designed by Cecilia Sonnenberg, the gardens offer an abundance of roses and azaleas, a secluded swimming pool and is a much sought after venue for weddings, important celebrations and a peaceful getaway destination for conferences.

The farm’s association with the arts started with the strains of opera singing drifting up from the cottages housing the Italian prisoners. The family tradition of being patrons and contributors to the arts has been followed by the present owners, David and Sue Sonnenberg and Sue, an artist and chorister, is involved with encouraging and sponsoring local artists, providing them with materials and a place to work.

The Vineyards

estate-overviewThe first vineyards were planted by David’s father in the 1970s, and in 2000 David built his own cellar and started producing award-winning estate wines. Vineyard plantings include Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and also the “lesser known” varietals Viognier, Barbera, Roobernet and Mouvedre. Diemersfontein’s maiden vintage (2001) won the Paul Sauer Trophy for a wooded Pinotage at the SA Young Wine Show and from that first vintage, awards have continued to be received by the Estate for many of their wines.

The Harmony 

The Sonnenberg family has struck a beautiful chord with their marriage of traditional South African culture and deep appreciation for quality wine.  The wines reflect their passion for the land and the culture and give the taster a sense of what it means to be a part of their everyday life.

Some sections of the Estate are now offered for country living for those who favour a wine farm lifestyle, with all the advantages and none of the responsibilities. All the smallholdings, courtyard and fynbos mountain view sites are positioned in and around the vineyards to offer owners panoramic views, a secure environment and sophisticated infrastructure, while losing nothing of the tradition and authenticity that is Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate.

Seize The Day with Diemersfontein’s ‘Carpe Diem’ Premium Line- Up:


Chenin Blanc Reserve

Chenin Blanc Reserve 2014 – A nose of pineapple, taste of green apples and pears with warm toasty biscuit aromas to add balance acidity lends to this wines fine length and compatibility with many flavourful dishes. Roast duck and pear salad is a particular flavour, though the wine is not easily dominated by smoked pork, fish or Thai prawns.

Viognier Reserve 2014 – Apricots, orange peel, citrus and biscuit followed by rich mouth feel with lingering marmalade aftertaste. A concentrated wine to be enjoyed with smoked pork neck, risotto or Thai dishes.

Malbec Reserve 2013 – On the nose raspberry and plums with undertones of tobacco with hints of vanilla on the palate followed with supple tannins. . Enjoy this wine with fine meat dishes like, duck breast and maple syrup, pork and honey mustard, and of course good company.



Pinotage Reserve

Pinotage Reserve 2013 – On the nose plums and blueberries with sweet vanilla undertones followed by soft mouth filling tannin. This wine lends its self to rich lamb casseroles and gentle Malay type curries.

The Diemersfontein line-up highlights some long time favourites that are sure to thrill:

Shiraz – Rich plum on the nose gradually gives way to cloves with white pepper, finishing with a whiff of perfume.  The palate yields a good supple tannin structure and spicy fruit finish.

Enjoy with gammon and cranberry sauce, kassler chops or spicy German sausages.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Good tannin structure supports intense blackcurrant fruit, with undertones of sweet spice, cloves and pepper. Enjoy this wine with full flavoured meaty casseroles, herb crushed rack of lamb, hearty winter soups and char-grilled meats.”

Serve with full flavoured meaty casseroles, herb crusted rack of lamb, hearty winter soups or char-grilled meats.



Summer’s Lease (63% Shiraz, 32% Mourvédre, 5% Viognier) – Sweet cherries, plum and spicy notes on the nose with hints of vanilla on the pallet followed by supple, juicy tannin adding good length.

The Thokozani Wines range give drinkers a lighter taste to enjoy life with:

Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay/Viognier (CCV) – Lemon, lime and pineapple that gradually give way to subtle honey and biscuit characters. The lingering acidity and a medium weight mouth feel from extended time on the lees, will give this wine a lasting balance.

To be enjoyed with grilled linefish and a lemon butter sauce, or a salad with a citrus dressing.



Rose – Strawberry and raspberries on the nose with sweet fruit on the palate, medium body, residual sweetness is balanced by a lingering acidity.

Serve with strawberry and rocket salad or seared tuna and wasabi.

Shiraz/Mourvredre/Vioger – Dark chocolate, morello cherries and liquorice on the nose followed by a spicy, smokey palate; fine tannin structure and good length.

Enjoy with meat dishes like fillet wrapped in bacon with a creamy mushroom sauce.


Looking to grow your distribution in USA?

USA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual trade-only event in New York City helping producers connect with wine, beer, spirits importers, distributors, retailers and press of USA.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now.