Iona Wines

How it all Began

Andrew Gunn, an engineer by training, bought the farm in 1997 and decided to name it after the island Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Gunn's proud Scottish ancestry that can be traced back over a thousand years to a Viking Chief, Olaf the Black, explains why the unusual Viking ship is used as the logo for Iona's wines.

Careful analysis of the long-term climatic information established that, on average, the conditions on Iona are very similar to the famous vintages of Bordeaux. Initially, people were skeptic of Andrew Gunn's plans for a vineyard, but after Prof Eben Archer confirmed the findings and helped him with the planning of the farm, the first vines were planted in 1998.

Perfect in Every Way

Although aspects, soils, viticultural and winemaking practices are important in producing high quality wines, the climate is probably the most important.

According to an authority, Iona is South Africa's only piece of land resembling Bordeaux, with an average growing season (October to April) temperature of 17,5ºC and a slightly warmer April equivalent, which ensures reliable physiological ripening of the grapes.

The altitude and cool southerly summer winds blowing directly off the Atlantic Ocean (13-19°C) over the farm contribute to a unique climate and the longer ripening period ensures that the sugar, pH, acid and flavour compounds are in perfect balance. These ideal growing conditions produce elegant wines of distinction with low alcohol levels.

Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon, which are particularly well-suited to the special climatic conditions and low potential soils, have been planted at Iona.

The Cellar - The Future

The 2001, 2002 and 2003 vintages were made at Tokara in Stellenbosch by Miles Mossop with input from Gyles Webb. From the 2004 vintage, Niels Verburg - well known for putting Beaumont on the map - will produce the wines in our own modern cellar, which has just been completed.

Our first 2002 vintage Merlot is due for release towards the end of 2003 with an anticipated Chardonnay-release in 2007.

Around the World

The wines have been well received in the UK, which is our major market at the moment. We also have agents in Ireland, Sweden and the USA.

Iona Vineyards