September 8, 2005
hello from graham knox
My name is Graham Knox and I am a partner in and run Stormhoek's winemaking and vineyard operations here in South Africa, and have lived on this property for nearly ten years. While I was born in Australia, I have lived in South Africa for thirty years. I have written four books on South African Wines dating back to 1976.
Stormhoek's home is a 200 acre vineyard estate in the mountains overlooking Wellington, South Africa. Wellington is about an hour northeast of Cape Town. There are lots of vineyards in our area and we actually live in our very own little valley called “Doolhof” or The Maze. It is part of the magic of where we are and I will write more about that later.
Of course, we grow grapes on our property, but we also have a citrus orchard and ancient towering protea plants growing wild on the land that in some years produce nearly a million stems which are air freighted to flower markets around the world.
The main house in which I and my wife, Di and our two dogs, Thor and Coopie, and our Australian cat, Morgan reside is a Cape manor, originally built in 1840. From the veranda of our home, through the trees you can see the vineyards spread out over our little valley. Some of the vineyards are just about 100 years old, although many of them are youngsters having been planted during the last generation.
Many people do not know the history of South Africa and the fact that wine has been part of South Africa’s history and culture since the 1700’s. The first vines were planted in what is now Cape Town in 1653. In fact when the McArthur brothers brought the first vines to Australia in 1848 (nearly two hundred years later), those vines came from South Africa. Being a bit of a recognized historian on the subject, I will write more about the history of the South African wine later.
Our little valley was first settled two hundred and ninety-eight years ago by (in 1707) a Dutch wagoner who claimed a small piece of the floor of the valley and constructed a home on the same spot where our house now sits. His house burned down in 1839 and was rebuilt the next year.
The first crops farmed were wheat, table grapes, apples, pears and plums. These were subsistence farmers, they were tilling the land in order to feed their families.
For two hundred and fifty years until the pass road was built in 1848 by a Mr. Bain, our spot was sort of the equivalent of the junction of the 405 and I-10 in Los Angeles. The wagon trail from the Cape to the interior of South Africa passed through our valley and over Limietberg Mountain (pic) Today, Bainskloof pass is still the main accessway to the east and diverts traffic away from our hidden valley.
Our winery is located just up the road from the vineyard and it is the spot where we make all of our reserve wines. We have lots of little tanks and barrels and is decidedly low tech.
Posted by graham knox at September 8, 2005 12:01 PM