Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate, situated in Walker Bay, Hermanus, is transporting its expertise nearly 10 000 kilometres to create the newest vineyard in England.
The Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes will be ready to make sparkling wine in 2020, with the first bottles available in 2023.
Penny Streeter, the Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur and owner of Benguela Cove wines, bought the site at Mannings Heath in England in 2016 to develop the UK’s first golf and wine estate. Cellar master Johann Fourie, formerly of KWV, is managing the planting of 38 000 vines within the 500 acre parkland site in England’s South East sparkling wine region.
“We are developing an international brand based on the South African wine farm experience – with wine tastings and pairings and themed events – through acquisition and new investment in vineyards, restaurants and hotels,” Penny Streeter says, who was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the UK for ‘services to enterprise’ in 2006.
“The limiting factor in UK viticulture is lack of heat: the location at Mannings Heath was selected for its steep slope, sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds, below 100m altitude,” said Johann Fourie, cellar master for Benguela Cove wines in South Africa.
“We have no such issues at Benguela Cove – even though Walker Bay as a region has a cool climate for growing grapes. The vineyard position is ideal, at the edge of the southern coast. The south-easterly sea breeze is chilled by the Benguela Current flowing up from Antarctica, cooling the grapes during the sunny growing season. It makes for a longer than usual ripening period and ideal temperature fluctuation, which plays a key part in the quality of wine making.
“Both SA and UK properties share common themes – a cool climate and location in global wine regions which will become even more important due to global warming, offering a style of wine with increasing appeal to the palate of wine lovers.”