My Planet Wine series touches down in Africa for the first time! These lovely vines nestled under mountains may look a lot like California, but it’s actually Franschhoek, South Africa, about 40 miles from Cape Town. This is the Haute Cabriere Vineyards, a fairly recent winery that nonetheless has a very long tradition. The first European settlement on this land was Pierre Jourdan, a French Huguenot who was granted this land in 1694. He and many others who followed him were impressed by the terroir of Franschhoek and how similar the soil was to that in Burgundy. In fact, when the founder of Haute Cabriere winery, Achim von Arnim, visited this land in the early 1980s, he noticed how the soil stuck to his boots exactly the same way it had when he worked in the wine fields of Burgundy.
Haute Cabriere is probably most famous for its champagne-style sparkling wines, but several other varietals are grown here, influenced not merely by French styles but also German–Achim von Arnim’s wife was from Moselle. Haute Cabriere also makes some pinot noirs and a chardonnay pinot noir, and even brandy is also distilled on the grounds. The sparkling wines are made exactly the way they are in Champagne, France, utilizing a double fermentation process.
I’ve been itching to get South Africa on the map of my Planet Wine series, and I’m fortunate to have landed here. It will soon be summer in South Africa, and I bet one of these Haute Cabriere whites would be the perfect thing for a summer afternoon under a luminous African sky.