For the past 18 years, Ernie Els Wines has been producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet-based blends in the Helderberg region of Stellenbosch.
During a briefing and exclusive tasting for the media, Ernie Els Wines announced yesterday (14 May) the temporary closure of its 70-hectare winery.
This is due to an extensive renovation project and makeover of the entire winery and wine cellar, which will take place from 22 June 2018 until around September/October 2019. The estate will look to reopen somewhere in 2020.
Winemaker and managing director, Louise Strydom, says they’ll continue to produce premium wine with the entire operation shifting to the recently-acquired and nearby Stellenzicht Winery. “Stellenzicht’s terroir has huge potential and we’re confident that it’ll keep up with our demand without compromising on grape quality or origin.”
“Stellenzicht has excellent soil structure and we’ll be taking a long-term view on re-planting that will ensure we have some of the best grapes in the Helderberg at our disposal. At Stellenzicht, we can keep the production style of our wines spot on.”
Strydom says that even though the winery will forfeit the visitor’s experience until 2020, “It’ll give us a great opportunity to take our top-of-the-range wines to the next level.”
According to him, the winery will focus almost exclusively on producing Cabernet Sauvignon and the Ernie Els’ Proprietor range.
The current cellar, which produces more than 350 tonnes, will be scaled down to 60 tonnes. Fermentation tanks will also be made smaller (three tonnes each). “The idea is to create a boutique-style cellar, which will help us be more selective with the component we use in the cellar and in our wines,” he says.
He adds, “We want to make our wines the centre of everything – the hero of our story. With smaller 2 500-litre batches made from the smaller fermentation tanks, we now have the best chance to make something really special.”
Andrew Harris, head of marketing and sales at Ernie Els Wines, says extensive renovations will not only be made to the cellar but also to the terrace, tasting room and restaurant.
“The tasting room will now be able to accommodate up to 170 people and the restaurant will seat 150. The restaurant will only cater for lunch. The focus will be on quality wine and food without being overly pretentious. We want to remain stylish and premium, but we want visitors to feel like they’re walking into Ernie Els’ living room.”
An X-ray-style mural art of the winery’s oldest vineyard block (weaved from papyrus) will decorate the interior of the tasting room.
“We look forward to using the knowledge we have gained while putting Ernie Els Wines on the map and combining that with Stellenzicht’s rich history and heritage to re-ignite a wonderful old grand dame of the Cape Winelands,” says Strydom. “We will be re-looking at many aspects of the brand and look forward to breathing new life into it.”