Vine­yard by the sea

The wine is worth the long drive to this unique West Coast win­ery

Getaway (South Africa) - - ESCAPE BITES -

On the face of it, Dor­ing­baai is just an­other for­got­ten, dusty town scoured by At­lantic winds, and its com­mu­nity poorer since fish­ing li­cences were cut in 2005. So to taste a stunning, lo­cally made Sauvi­gnon Blanc on the jetty of an old fish fac­tory is most sur­pris­ing.

A dirt road winds past bro­ken-down har­bour build­ings to a derelict-look­ing com­plex hous­ing an abalone farm, a win­ery and a restau­rant. The vine­yard where the wine is grown is about six kilo­me­tres north. It was planted in 1999, just 550 me­tres from the sea, and in 2011 Fryer’s Cove opened its cel­lar at the har­bour.

The vine­yard’s lo­ca­tion pro­vides a unique ter­roir that im­bues the wine with a flinty, mar­itime flavour, sub­lime with min­er­al­ity. Low fer­men­ta­tion tem­per­a­tures in the cel­lar are in­ge­niously achieved by means of a heat ex­changer im­mersed in the icy sea water and cir­cu­lated through jack­eted, stain­less-steel fer­men­ta­tion tanks.

So unique are these wines that Fryer’s Cove has been given its own wine-re­gion name, Bam­boes Bay – cur­rently one of the small­est in the coun­try – and its wine com­pares with top New Zealand Sauvi­gnon Blancs.

Fresh water was the big­gest chal­lenge ini­tially – about 50 mil­lime­tres of rain falls in the area each year. An ar­range­ment with a Vre­den­dal farmer, who needed water points on his land for live­stock, changed this, and now a 30-kilo­me­tre pipe­line feeds water to the vine­yard.

This shar­ing phi­los­o­phy is ev­i­dent in how the restau­rant op­er­ates – co-owned by Fryer’s Cove, the Dor­ing­baai Trust and Blue Ocean, the premises are given rent-free to the com­mu­nity. The food is hearty and fresh, and it gets so busy that pa­trons are ac­com­mo­dated on the har­bour jetty with bot­tles of ‘The Jetty’ Sauvi­gnon Blanc (R76, sold only there) to sweeten the wait. R5 from each sale goes to the com­mu­nity. • Open daily ex­cept Sun­days. 027-215-1092

ABOVE Der­ick Koege­len­berg (right) makes the wine and Fran­cois Jansen van Rensburg sells it.

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