WineLand took a trip up the West Coast to experience the rustic charm, countryside hospitality and spectacular wines that’s synonymous with Darling family estate Groote Post Vineyards.
The initial intention of our visit was to document and celebrate the long-standing relationship between the winery and its label printer Rotolabel – initiated by leading print technology supplier ROTOCON.
To fulfil its quest of #bringingpeopletogether, ROTOCON put the spotlight on Groote Post and Rotolabel’s affiliation, a 20-year partnership built on the foundation of trust and integrity – the same values ROTOCON’s bases its own business on.
ROTOCON founder and group CEO Michael Aengenvoort says communication, and fostering good relationships are important for business partnerships.
Each bottle of wine has a story which is conveyed through the label. For ROTOCON and Rotolabel it’s not just about the label, but rather about fostering and maintaining relationships with one another.
Groote Post owner and proprietor Nick Pentz believes celebrating this long-standing business relationship was the perfect way to kick off the start of the new month.
“It’s amazing how a company [like ROTOCON] can make a difference by going back to the drawing board and back to the printers to create a quality product.” The values reflected in ROTOCON are synonymous with those of Groote Post, he adds. [Ed note: Catch the full story in our August 2022 print edition].
Groote Post: From dairy to wine, the ‘Old Man’s Story’
Located roughly 70 km north of Cape Town, Groote Post is a historic 18th century farm on the Cape West Coast where the distinctive aspects and cool climate conditions of the Darling Hills yield superlative fruit and excellent wines.
The winery is situated in a lovely green valley threaded by the Klawer River with luxurious lawns and an original, beautifully restored Cape Dutch homestead. Being within 5 km of the Atlantic Ocean, Groote Post Vineyards boasts a unique terroir that produces some extraordinary wines.
Groote Post was founded on a history of dairy farming in Darling, Tokai and Philippi. Owner and proprietor Nick Pentz’s father and patriarch of the Pentz family, Peter Sr, is at heart a stock- and cattleman, as well as an internationally-recognised dairy farmer of fame.
Peter is affectionately referred to as ‘The Old Man’ by his children, of whom, Nick has been farming with him since 1992. Grandson, Peter Jr [featured in this year’s WineLand ROTOCON 30 Under 30 campaign] joined the family wine business in March 2020. Three generations of Pentz’s now work side by side in the family business.
Groote Post’s popular The Old Man’s Blend pays tribute to Peter for his change from dairy to wine farming. Peter is often asked what it’s like being in the wine business after so many years as a dairy farmer. His reply, “In my 40 years of dairy farming no-one has ever come up to me in the street and said that they had a great bottle of my milk last night”.
Nick tells the story with great enthusiasm: “My father was a third generation dairyman processing his milk and delivering it daily door to door in the southern suburbs by way of electric carts.”
Dairy made way for wine in 2001 and in those early years, Lukas, the winemaker, made a red blend for Peter as his evening tipple. One afternoon, Peter called the cellar and asked Wilna to please send a case of his red blend with Rob, when he came through Blouberg that evening.
Before he put the phone down, he overheard Wilna saying to Lukas, “Remember to send a case of The Old Man’s Blend through with Rob this evening.” So the next morning Peter came to the cellar and said, “I have the name for the red blend”. And so The Old Man’s Blend came into being, as a tribute to Peter for his change from dairy to wine.
The wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Shiraz. During the winemaking and wood maturation, the cultivars are kept apart, and The Old Man takes part in rigorous tasting sessions to decide on the final blend.
This is a down-to-earth, ripe-fruit-driven blend with captivating red fruit notes that delight the senses, most notably cherry, raspberry and cranberry with soft tannins and a smooth finish.
Groote Post: Rustic country cooking
Our party were treated to a delectable lunch by Groote Post’s on-site restaurant Hilda’s Kitchen. The menu, albeit short, is designed to complement the outstanding wines of Groote Post.
Using only the freshest produce that’s locally sourced and grown, Hilda’s Kitchen delivers mouth-watering modern country cooking that’s authentic, delicious and unpretentious. Hilda’s Kitchen operates Wednesday to Sunday (12:00-14:30), and bookings are essential.
For starters, a Camembert, basil and tomato tart was packed full of fresh flavours and paired superbly with Groote Post’s award-winning Seasalter Sauvignon Blanc. The Seasalter is wonderfully expressive on the nose and the palate with captivating notes of black current, stone fruit and green apple together with hints of fynbos, kelp, sea-breeze and a touch of oak.
A regular feature among the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 winners’ list, Groote Post’s Seasalter (named after a village in the Canterbury district of Kent, England) is an elegant well-balanced wine showing typical Darling minerality, vibrant acidity and some leesy complexity before a saline finish.
For mains, the Old Man’s Steak Roll with garlic mayo and hand-cut chips filled the bellies, paired with (obviously!) The Old Man’s Blend as well as the spectacular Groote Post Shiraz 2019.
This premium wine displays white pepper and violets, which is typical of the Darling terroir. But an abundance of blackcurrant and smoky spices fill the palate, and the style is reminiscent of a Swartland-style Shiraz.
Fermentation is split between using open top tanks for punching down the skin cap and closed stainless steel tanks for pumping the juice over the skins.
The fermenting grapes underwent maceration for 2-4 weeks. The goal was to achieve a complex and versatile Shiraz. The wine matured for 15 months in 300L oak barrels of which 10% were American oak and 20% new oak. The lunch was concluded with a devilish delicious homemade brownie and ice-cream.
Groote Post: More than just wine
Groote Post Vineyards offers farm drives through the game camp where you’ll be able to spot some of Africa’s indigenous antelope (Eland, Kudu, Gemsbok, Bontebok, Springbok, Red Hartebeest), Ostrich, Black Wildebeest, Zebra and Giraffe.
Guests can also enjoy picnics on the lawn and nature walks, which are most spectacular during spring as the farm is filled with the famous West Coast wildflowers.
As proud members of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI), owners Peter and Nick Pentz have committed to preserving thousands of hectares of endangered fynbos and to minimise the further loss of threatened natural habitat.
Groote Post is also part of the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve which stretches from the Milnerton lagoon to Langebaan and inland as far as Darling.
“As farmers, we are capable of resilience, hope and optimism and look forward to a much safer, calmer and more normal world going forward. As always, we remain committed to the growth of agriculture and agri-tourism, two of the largest job-creating sectors in the Western Cape,” Nick Pentz says.
“Groote Post is a tourist destination that caters for the entire family,” Peter Pentz Jr says.
WATCH: The story of Groote Post