A relatively new winery and label, Vilafonté is a partnership between Warwick Estate's Mike Ratcliffe and American winemaking consultant and viticulturist respectively, Zelma Long and Dr. Phil Freese, who worked together at Mondavi in California.
Established in 1996, with densely planted Paarl vineyards developed and expanded since, with malbec, first planted 'almost as an afterthought' becoming increasingly important. Winemaker Martin Smith manages the dedicated red wine boutique cellar on the outskirts of Stellenbosch designed for Bordeaux varietals. The name comes from the name of the soil type – vilafontes – the oldest documented soil type in the world.
Production focused initially on two red wines: 'C' Series, a cabernet-based Bordeaux blend, and 'M' Series, originally merlot-focused, now merlot and malbec. Modest stocks of each vintage are being held back for 'museum' release, a further sign of the commitment to both quality and reputation at this impressive New World venture. A new, earlier-drinking red blend, Seriously Old Dirt, playing on the US use of the word dirt for earth or soil, was introduced from the 2012 vintage using off-cuts from the two flagship reds.
No expense is spared at the production end, with bottles individually wrapped and packed in wooden cases.