Quoin Rock Wine Farm is a 158-hectare estate that lies in the foothills of the Simonsberg mountain in Stellenbosch. Originally the farm grew pears and clementines alongside vines, and it was only in 1998 after takeover by an external investor, that a programme of extensive replanting and winery construction began.
Most of the old vines were diseased and needed grubbing up to be replaced by new plantings. Varietals more suited to the growing conditions of the area: cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, viognier, merlot, cabernet franc, mourvèdre and sauvignon blanc were all introduced.
Quoin Rock also owns land in Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa and one of the most southerly premium wine regions in the world, where the cool, humid conditions are perfect for cool-climate varieties. Since the first vintage in 2001, Quoin Rock’s wines have been going from strength to strength.
Since 2003 the general manager and winemaker here has been Carl van der Merwe, a self-confessed Francophile, who spent time winemaking at some very smart addresses in the Rhône, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Carl is an impressive and talented man whose vision is to make wines with subtle nuances of flavour that people can relate to. Regrettably Carl is moving on to pastures new and we await with interest to see how this impressive estate develops in the future and to see where this most intellectual and sensitive of young winemakers shines next.
The top wines are sold under the Quoin Rock name with the label stating whether the fruit has come from Simonsberg or Cape Agulhas. Glenhurst is used as a second label and also for specific parcels. Very small amounts of sweet, vine dried sauvignon blanc are produced by pinching the vine stalk to reduce water and to encourage raisining (dessication) on the vine.