By Sue Adams
“It began with a German missionary, Mr. Rottcher, who had no wine for communion so he decided to make his own out of oranges,” explains Frank Theron from Rottcher Distillers.
Mr Rottcher began Rottcher Wineries in 1916 in Greytown when he needed wine for ‘nagmaal’ and there was a shortage of grapes. He experimented a little and found he could make wine from oranges and so the Winery began. The business was bought and sold a few times and eventually moved to the Lowveld in 1959.
“I was head hunted for a job in the Lowveld and when the time came to go back I said no ways,” says present owner Frank Theron. So in 2012 he bought Rottcher Wineries and has begun making a much wider range of products, the most recent of which is gin. I went to visit him at Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre where he has the distillery and tasting room.
“This is the first ever gin to be made from citrus,” explains Frank proudly. This means it is orange based and not just infused with an orange flavour. “I double distil and infuse botanicals such as cinnamon, coriander, granadilla and anise.”
Frank makes three different kinds of gin: an Orange Clear, an Orange Cloudy and a Clementine Gin. The Clementine gin is specifically made from Clementine fruit and has a very distinctive flavour.
‘The best way to serve my gins is not to drown them in tonic,” says Frank. “I recommend half tonic, half soda and then add strawberry and black pepper or rosemary and cucumber. Or neat on the rocks with a sprig of rosemary,” he adds.
Frank is passionate about his job and goes on to show me what else he makes. “The Rottcher wines are more like dessert wines. Drink them as a dessert wine or else with a spritzer,” he explains. “I also use them in cooking.”
I first got to taste the delicious Limoncello at the local Saturday morning Bagdad Farmers Market as an ice-cold slush. “That sells very well on a hot day,’ says Frank with a smile. You can also buy Mampoer and Clementine Wine.
With so many more choices Frank renamed Rottcher Wineries as Rottcher Distillers of Distinction. He welcomes visitors and is always happy to do a tour and tasting.
Visit Rottcher Distillers at Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre on the R40 at White River. For more information visit www.rottcher.com or phone 013 751 3472.