De Trafford Wines

De Trafford Wines

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'At the top of one of the Cape's most jarring roads lie some of its most compelling wines'  Wine Spectator's James Molesworth 2013

Understanding the land to coax something special from it

André Morganthal first brought us to meet David Trafford, founder and winemaker at De Trafford wines, in April 1998. For me, this was an amazing visit at the time. Because the winemaking was all done very traditionally, by hand and on a very small scale, it was very easy to see at first hand all of the steps involved in the winemaking process - remember, I was studying for the WSET Diploma at the time and this particular visit gave me huge understanding of the details of the process. The tiny basket press used for the Straw Wine /Vin de Paille looked like a toy but it still in active use today.

david traffordDavid Trafford is an architect with no formal training as a winemaker. Who could imagine this when they taste his wines? David says:

"...understanding and working with the vineyard to coax something magical from the land, after that it's hold thumbs you don't cock it up in the cellar. I never chose winemaking as a profession – it was thrust upon me. I chose Architecture as a profession, but live on land with such great vineyard potential, it was impossible not to get involved in the wine business."

A working knowledge of winemaking gleaned from local winemakers, a vintage spent at St Emilion and David's own practical experience has ensured a steady flow of wines of ever increasing sophistication that seem to evolve and live for ever. 

Today, David is one of the Cape's most widely admired and respected winemakers among his peers with an acute appreciation of nature and sense of time and place. David is also disarmingly shy, humorous, and honest while exuding his quiet  When not making wine he goes to physio to repair his back, he walks in the mountains, jogs, swims, plays tennis, squash and golf.

Surely we must be lost - this road is going nowhere

De Trafford Winery is situated on the beautiful Mont Fleur farm set at the top of a dramatic valley above Stellenbosch, 380m up between the Stellenbosch and Helderberg mountains, right at the end of the Blaauwklip road, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. You need faith to actually get here as the dirt road in is so long, we still wonder, despite many visits, if we are on the right track. 

The history of wine growing on this mountain farm started with the purchase of the property in 1976 by the Trafford family as inaccessible grazing land. Many of the high altitude slopes were deemed suitable for high quality red grape varieties. Unfortunately, due to the absurd quota restrictions, planting a commercial vineyard had to wait 18 years. In 1983 a small vineyard was established to produce experimental wines – consumed by family and friends! These were our learning curve years ( 1984 – 1991 ), which included lots of help and advice from local winemakers and working experience in France, particularly in the Bordeaux area.

Vineyards

In 1991 quota restrictions were lifted and their winery was registered in time for the 1992 harvest. A new vineyard was planted in 1994 and 1995 with varieties, clones, rootstocks, vine densities and trellis systems were carefully chosen to suit the subtle variations in soil and microclimate. The aim was to produce high quality red wines which convey the personality and uniqueness of this mountain site to the full.

In addition to grapes grown on Mont Fleur, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chenin Blanc grapes have been sourced from 3 vineyards in the Helderberg and Stellenbosch Mountain area to produce grapes with highly concentrated, balanced flavour from naturally low yielding vines. Rows of vines are carefully chosen from the various vineyard blocks and monitored throughout the growing season to ensure the best possible quality fruit. Our tiny production of 3500 cases means we can pay every attention to detail.

 

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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