Commemorating more than two decades of wine production, Diemersfontein Wines – best known for their pinotage – has prepared a limited-edition wine exclusively available from the farm and its e-store. The birthday wine is a Shiraz-dominant blend called TWENTYONE and is supported by a special offer on Diemersfontein Pinotage until August.
“It has been quite a journey,” declares David Sonnenberg, who launched the enterprise with his wife, Susan, on their return from London in 2000. “The coming-of-age occasion allows us to consider how Diemersfontein has matured into early adulthood; how it began with its endowments of special soils and, how it now hopefully reflects an authentic representation of our collective value systems as its custodians over the last few generations.”
The milestone of its 21st vintage places special emphasis on the wines, which came about thanks to the urging of the then foremost viticulturist in South Africa, the late Professor Eben Archer.
The Wellington property already had some vineyards at that point. In fact, Diemersfontein’s oldest block, 35-year-old Chenin blanc, qualified this year to be certified as part of South Africa’s Old Vine Project. The birth of the Diemersfontein brand however, set it on a completely new trajectory.
Within a year of producing its first Pinotage, Diemersfontein had pinned its colours to the mast. The wine received a trophy at the Young Wine Show and a spot among the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage wines. A second major award came in 2005, when it won Best Producer at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.
With the overwhelming success of its Coffee Chocolate Pinotage – a wine that spawned an entire category – Diemersfontein had uncovered how well its soils were suited to the variety. Several Pinotage expressions were added to the portfolio.
But there was more to come, as Diemersfontein’s Bordeaux varieties began making headlines thanks to consistent awards at leading local and international wine competitions. Shining lights among them have been the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Current cellarmaster Francois Roode is joined in the cellar by Lauren Hulsman, whose first attempt at “flying solo” saw her Thokozani Cabernet Franc take top honours in its category at the 2021 National Wine Challenge/Top 100 SA Wines.
The Diemersfontein focus on people has also defined other parts of the multi-layered enterprise. Among most recent highlights are
- A historic deal in February that saw the transfer of majority shareholding in Diemersfontein Wines to Thokozani Staff Holdings – an employee empowerment venture.
- The imminent graduation next year of the first Grade 12 class from the Wellington Preparatory School and College, established on the estate in 2004. In addition, the establishment this year of the Diemersfontein Educational Trust that will fund scholarships via a portion of wine sales.
- Contributing to the development and funding of opera and training of opera singers in South Africa, as well as emerging artists, through initiatives such as its Harlequin and The Prodigy wines.
“Diemersfontein brand has been hard work, but we’ve had great fun in creating it – I am so proud of it and its people,” says David. “Now, it’s time to start looking at its future.”