Producers

Thelema Mountain Vineyards

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'One of the Cape's most highly rated classic estates high above Stellenbosch with breathtaking views

Old orchards, rolling hills, virgin mountainside and of course those iconic eucalyptus trees for the mint

Back in 1983, the McLean Family Trust bought the old fruit farm Thelema, situated on the top of the Helshoogte Pass about 6 kilometers outside of Stellenbosch. This purchase was the culmination of a long search by Gyles and Barbara Webb for that rare location where exceptional wines could be made, for this was their sole intention.

The farm comprises 157 ha of land on the slopes of the Simonsberg. The elevation ranges from 370 to 640 meters above sea level of mainly south-facing slopes, making Thelema one of the highest and probably coolest wine farms in the Stellenbosch area. Although wine had been made on the farm in the early part of the century and table grapes produced until the late 1960's, there were no vines on the farm at the time of purchase. The 25 ha under cultivation consisted of plums, apples and pears in varying stages of degeneration. The neglected state of the farm could not detract from its charm - there are spectacular views of the Simonsberg, Drakenstein and Jonkershoek Mountains and the farm is dotted with enormous oak trees. It has, however, involved an enormous effort to convert Thelema into a wine farm. The farm workers housing has been renovated and new cottages built and the old Cape Victorian farmhouse restored. The orchards have gradually made way for vineyards and virgin mountainside cleared and prepared to increase the arable land to about 40 ha. Detailed tests of the soil have revealed them to be high potential decomposed granite with excellent water-retention capacity.

In 2000 Thelema bought Sutherland, an apple orchard in the Elgin Valley. To date 45 hectares of vines have been planted on this cool-climate site, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Grenache and Pinot Noir. The rolling hills and close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean offers excellent conditions for vines. All the Sutherland fruit is transported to Thelema for vinification, and bottled under the Thelema Sutherland label.

Gyles Webb directs all farming and winery operations, and the remaining directors are wife Barbara and sister-in-law Jenny de Tolly while Gyles' son, Thomas, is involved in general management, sales and marketing.

About Kinnegar

Kinnegar Wines was born almost by accident and been growing organically since.

In 1998, I was in the midde of a two year diploma course with the London Wine & Spirits Trust when an opportunity came up to visit South Africa's Western Cape. Naturally, I was keen to avail of the opportunity to learn more about viticulture and winemaking in South Africa.

We had an excellent guide who brought us to a number of the Cape's leading estates including Thelema and De Trafford where we had in depth vineyard and cellars tours. At the end of the day, I wanted to take back some of the wonderful wines we had tasted for our own use. It was not possible to take two or three cases of wine with us on our flight and shipping such a small quantity was more than the cost of wines. So I had the mad idea of shipping a pallet! Clearly, I had to start selling these wines and so began Kinnegar Wines. Ashford Castle took many of the wines and continue to list them and newer arrivals ever since.

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