The Wine Fox visits Journey's End Vineyards
I've been very loud and open on my social media platforms about my obsession with the Journey's End Vineyards Destination Chardonnay which I discovered many moons ago at one of my favourite annual wine festivals: Noordhoek Crush. When I obsess about a certain wine, I get very curious about what the rest of their bothers and sister taste like, the location and the people behind scenes who are producing this marvel; thereafter a visit to the estates' doors becomes a highly desired idea.
Journey’s End Vineyards is a boutique winery owned by the Gabb Family. The Estate is situated on the foothills of the Hottentots Mountains in Somerset West and overlooks the stunning False Bay with its piercing blue breezy Atlantic Ocean.
Journey's End Vineyards is one of South Africa’s most sustainable and experimental wineries. They do minimal interference in the Winemaking process which allows nature to run its course. They also prefer to use only the very best French and America oak barrels; which will have you swooning hard.
So when the opportunely came along to visit Journey's End every bone in my body jumped with excitement. I was met by the Winemaker at Journey's End, Mike Dawson, and Janine their brand development manager (whom I've met on many occasions at wine feasts and had been the one to invited me to come explore the estate on this fine day).
So off we went to start the afternoon and made a beeline straight into the cellar. I was blown away by the high tech advanced machinery and winemaking toys. I think most winemakers would go green with envy on a visit to this cellar #cellargoals. Clearly, Rodger Gabb has invested heavily into this estate and spares no expense when it comes to using the best quality winemaking materials and machinery to produce their exceptionally outstanding wines.
The cellar tour was fantastic, we tasted from the barrel and I learnt so much about how their wines are produced. Mike has a great way of explaining and was a wonderful teacher... it ended up being my favourite cellar tour to date.
On to the winemaker
My perception of Mike Dawson was that he's incredibly hardworking and passionate and a bit of a Winemaking prodigy. Mike is clearly looking into the future with bright eyes and fresh innovative ideas that he applies and experiments within the Journeys End cellar.
I think he has a very bright future ahead of him with regards to South African Winemaking and is definitely someone you should be keeping a watch on. I have a strong feeling that many great wines will be birthed by this promising wine alchemist (Some are already here and form what is the Journeys End wine portfolio).
After the cellar tour I was invited by Janine and Mike to head up to the main private house of the Gabb Family for an alfresco snack lunch and wine tasting through the entire Journey's End wine Portfolio ~ tough life for this Fox, but someone has to do it!
The Gabb family home sits up against the hillside and from their patio you can admire the vineyards, Hottentot Mountains and direct your gaze to False Bay and all the way to Cape Point; it's absolutely spectacular. Wild peacocks roam and the surrounding bird life is rich and harmonious.
On to the wines
Journey's End is revamping its range of wines to give a clear differentiation between its three series, while maintaining a consistent theme across the family of wines.
This is their entry level series and prices range from between R88-R99. What surprised me about the Tales Series is that all the wine tasted way above their retail value; anywhere between R150-R280. This series is great for people with champagne taste and a students budget or the end of the month budget blues. You get way above the value of what you're paying for; which make this my favourite budget-friendly wine range to date.
The new labels on these four wines are designed to tell the story behind each wine:
Weather Station Sauvignon Blanc
An important name in the Western Cape, this Sauvignon Blanc was named The Weather Station because the SB11 clone, which is the component used in this wine, had a big resurgence in the 1970’s in Stellenbosch, and the Afrikaners aptly named it the ‘Weerstasie Kloon’. Its name derived from its location next to an old Weather Station which is now the Stellenbosch Wine Campus.
Due to limited availability of Sauvignon Blanc on the Journey’s End farm they have sourced grapes from various wine regions including Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl to meet growing consumer demands. This adds complexity in flavour to the wine having used grapes from various vineyards.
Clear pale lemon colour with hints of green. A pronounced nose with lime, green fig, kiwifruit, gooseberries, and hints of herbaceous and mineral characteristics. The palate displays beautiful kiwifruit and tangy green apple flavour. Lovely weight and round-mouth feel on the mid-palate, balanced acidity bringing freshness and length to the finish. Ready to drink now.
Journey's End undergo a number of organic and bio-dynamic practices on the farm. Aside from being the second wine farm in SA to be solar powered, they undertake some age-old practices such as the planting of crops between vineyard rows (to prevent weeds and therefore reduce the need for spraying). The introduction of Barn and Eagle Owls (to control rodents), play their part in ensuring nature and the environment are preserved and protected.
Clear and bright straw coloured with a hint of green. Oak and fruit are perfectly matched, each donating without dominating: citrus peel and melon enriched by a subtle, savoury biscuit overlay. The limy acidity seamed through the fruit flavours gives food-friendly freshness and promises a few years ageing potential.
The Huntsman - Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Viognier
1811 marked the first-ever hunt in the Western Cape with hounds imported from Gloucestershire, UK. The Cape Hunt remains the oldest Hunt in the New World. Whilst looking for a spot to build their Cellar, Rollo, the proprietor, discovered the original foundations of the Kennels where the hounds were kept. An apt place for their new building.
Beautiful dark ruby red colour. Expressive aromatics of violets, redcurrant and cherries with hints of white pepper and liqourice. Juicy layers of red and dark berries come through on the palate, with elegant tannins on the finish. Drink now and until 2021.
Pastor’s Blend - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (my personal favourite out of the range)
The community of Sir Lowry’s Pass Village was traditionally neglected as the South African Government and charities have been focusing on the larger areas of Nomzamo and Khayelitsha. The aim of Journey's End therefore is to focus on uplifting a community plagued by low socio-economic conditions. Journey's End main vehicle for channelling resources into the community is the local church and they work closely with Pastors Johnny Clink and Leister Allies to improve conditions and opportunities.
This Old World style red blend displays rich dark red fruit aromas including blackcurrant and ripe cherries. These aromas are also experienced on the palate and are accompanied by sweet tobacco and Christmas cake characters. This wine has a well-integrated tannic structure showing elegance and lengthy finish.
V Series Comprising five varietal wines - Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc (the wines will be available in and around Cape Town, retailing between R178 and R190).
Comprising three top tier wines, every one of these wines is a masterpiece! - Destination Chardonnay, The Griffin Syrah, Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon (which will retail nationally between R270 and R300).
Destination Chardonnay 2017
A truly remarkable feat from Winemaker Leon Esterhuizen. Loved by all, and feared by many. The Chardonnay is known as ‘The Destination’ because Journey's End hope that once opened, this wine will entice people from far and wide to end their quest for the ultimate Chardonnay. I dare you to try this marvel.
The Destination is the pinnacle of white winemaking at Journey’s End. Rich and full on entry and throughout. The nose exhibits concentrated apricot and ripe peach with layers of lime zest and orange. The fruit component is complemented by well-balanced almond and vanilla spice from generous oak aging. Minerality ensures freshness and adds linearity to a long-lasting creamy finish. The Destination will reward patient cellaring for up to 10 years post-bottling.
The Griffin Syrah 2015
The Griffin is a mythical creature symbolizing divine power. This is a unique product in their range. Having undergone 30% Carbonic Maceration, this Syrah underwent the usual Journey’s End precision treatment. A delightfully fruity nose, follows through into a complex but soft pallet. The Griffin is the family crest of the Gabb family due to their Welsh roots. You can also find the Griffin on the Welsh flag.
A youthful but complex concentrated fruit wine. Layers of different red and blackberries with hints of smoky spice, and dark-toned fruit. Although rich and succulent, silky polished tannins provide structure and an elegant lingering finish which will develop well in the bottle up until 2025. The Griffin is an example of an excellent vintage.
Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
The Cape Doctor is the local name for the strong south-eastern wind that blows from False Bay and funnels through to Cape Town and Blouberg. The Cape Doctor works his magic blowing away smog and impurities to clear the skies and make way for some fresh sea air. The Cape Doctor is so often cited as a negative factor and can play havoc with the vines at flowering. For Journey’s End, it brings benefits through the resulting long ripening period of the grapes which produces concentrated berries with fantastic firm acidity. It also minimizes the risk of any fungal diseases on the vines. Try spawning in a 65 Km Ph wind!
This wine has a deep fruitcake richness on the nose complemented by cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Layered dark berries, cassis and plum are displayed on the palate. Rich and creamy in texture with soft elegant tannins. Despite the current appeal, there is enough underlying power for a long future ahead. Drink now or up until 2027.
Thanks to Janine and Mike for hosting us and the Gabb Family for the warm welcome to their estate. Please invite me back soon!
For my readers, if you'd like to visit Journeys's End please see the information below. You can also check out my video of my visit right at the bottom of the page.
Visiting Journeys End Vineyards
Wine tastings are by appointment only, so book if you plan on visiting. Wine tasting is done in a stylish tasting centre, glassed on three sides, overlooks the barrel cellar and embraces the untrammelled beauty of the panoramic vista.
Tasting, sales, cheese platters and snacks by appointment: Monday Friday: 10h00 - 17h00
Walks, hikes, MTB and horse-riding
Journey’s End Vineyards
Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Somerset West 7130
Tel: 021 858 1929
Watch the Video of my visit here below
Director/DOP/Editing/ Audio/Grading - By Tim Lester at Phumula Productions
If you'd like to hire Tim Lester and The Wine Fox to come shoot Video and blog feature to promote your Winery please inquire email@example.com
Till next time wine warriors...may the wine force be with you!