Vineyard by the sea
The wine is worth the long drive to this unique West Coast winery
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.