On a sunny Friday afternoon in winter, Leandra and I were invited to spend the day at Journey’s End Vineyards in Somerset West, close to Sir Lowry’s Pass. I have been living just around the corner in Strand for almost two years, but I had never been to Journey’s End before. And I’m so glad I got to have this experience!
Journey’s End estate is a boutique winery and vineyard and the terroir there is recognised as some of the best in South Africa. The Gabb family purchased the vineyard in 1995 and they have been producing wine ever since. The family has a vision of sustainability in winemaking — and their farm is solar powered to boot!
The winemaker, Mike Dawson, gave us a tour of the cellars and allowed us to taste some of their 2019 harvest straight from the barrel. During our tour and tasting, he told us about the farm’s hands-off philosophy, through which they aim to create the best quality wines through minimum intervention. With each harvest, they experiment with techniques to bring out the best flavours in each wine, while adding as little as possible to each barrel.
All the wines produced on the farm are also fully vegan (if you’d like to learn more about vegan wines, check out my article here), and they use potato and pea proteins in the fining process instead of animal byproducts. They also try not to add sulfur to their wines, and when it’s necessary, they focus on keeping any additives as low as possible, which is helped by their crush method of production.
In the vineyards, they follow the ancient tradition of planting cover crops, such as barley or grass. This cover crop deters weeds and pathogens and prevents soil erosion, while simultaneously preventing water evaporation!
We were treated to a full tasting of wines from each of their three ranges, where we definitely had some stand-out favourites in each of the three tiers.
In their cellar range, they offer the Weather Station Sauvignon Blanc, Haystack Chardonnay, The Huntsman Shiraz/ Mourvedre/ Viognier and The Pastor’s Blend. Of the four, my absolute favourite was the Weather Station Sauv Blanc with its super fruity and floral flavours and pale straw tinge. In the red wine category, The Pastor’s Blend blew me away with its spicy oak and dark berries flavours.
The Estate Varietal range consists of Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon, of which the Merlot was my stand-out favourite. It has spices like nutmeg and vanilla on the nose and a refreshing blackberry and raspberry flavour which works well with the woodiness of the French oak that comes through.
The Icon Estate Range is their signature range, and it is also where I found my ultimate favourite wine; the Journey’s End Destination Chardonnay. This wine is only produced during exceptional vintages, and we were lucky enough to be given a taste of their 2018 varietal. Subtle oak flavours blend harmoniously with the stone fruit flavours of the wine, and each sip ends with a creamy, slightly woody, finish.
All in all, our day at Journey’s End taught me a lot about sustainability in winemaking, and how we can protect our environment for the future through proper planning and sustainable techniques today.