The Home of Fairhills Wines: Du Toitskloof Cellar

31 May

How nice to be greeted by such warm smiles when walking into the Du Toitskloof Cellar. Thank you ladies! I am at the cellar to speak to winemaker Shawn Thompson. To get an interview with him during the busy harvesting time is a huge privilege.

The cellar was established in 1962 at the foot of the Du Toitskloof mountains in Rawsonville and at the mouth of the Du Toitskloof Pass. Over the years the cellar built-up an excellent reputation for its quality wines at affordable prices. It accommodates slightly over 200 tanks inside. Du Toitskloof is ideally positioned in the present time of economic turmoil to benefit from the desires of customers and tourists to obtain the best value for their money, which they do, says Shawn. Du Toitskoof won the “Best-Valued Cellar” reward for the fourth time in six years. For the two years it didn’t win, it was the runner-up.

Shawn took over after the old and successful winemaker, Phillip Jordaan left the cellar. Du Toitskloof have won several awards including Veritas, Wine Magazine and Michelangelo Wine Awards. The biggest contributor to the present spurts of popularity has been their 3-litre bag-in-a-box of Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc and their red blend of Pinotage, Merlot and Ruby Carbenet. The Sauvignon Blanc won gold at MUNDUSvini in Germany (2009) while the Chenin Blanc received a similar distinction in the Michelangelo compitition held locally.

“The bag-in-a-box, is as far as we know, the only gold-medal winner locally. The demands for these wines in December was so high that we battled to fill all the orders, with the bottling facility working overtime. The preference for the box also reflects the change in consumers attitudes. Today, more and more consumers trust our brand and accept our word when we say that the wine that goes into the box is the same wine that goes into the bottle,” says Shawn.

Shawn clearly has a passion for the craft of winemaking. He forms, like every other link in the Fairhills Project, a very important part of the whole success story. I ask him what he thinks about the project. “A very good thing, there’s no other description for it. It changed each and everyone, from babies to adults’, lives.”

After my interview with Shawn I take a short tour through the cellar with Uncle Ben, one of the senior workers at Du Toitskloof Cellar. “How long have you been working for the cellar?” I asked him. “Yoh son, for many years, I can’t even remember anymore”, he says laughingly. He represents the many workers for whom being part of this cellar is not just work, but love. That you hear by his last comment as we part: “At this cellar I’ll die”.

Written by Marlen Hendricks

*To find more info on the Du Toitskloof cellar, log on to http://www.dutoitskloof.co.za.

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One Response to “The Home of Fairhills Wines: Du Toitskloof Cellar”

  1. Peter F May May 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Welcome to blogging Marlen! I look forward to reading more about the happenings in Fairhills

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