Napier Farm

Napier Winery is named after Sir George Napier, Governor of the Cape (1837 ? 1843) who christened the town of Wellington in honour of the famous Duke of Wellington.

Napier Winery is named after Sir George Napier, Governor of the Cape (1837 – 1843) who christened the town of Wellington in honour of the famous Duke of Wellington.
The present owners and shareholders purchased Napier farm in 1989, three years later the winery was built, in 1997 a maturation cellar was added and the following year the brandy distillery was built. In 2005 the Winery was upgraded and a Fermentation Cellar, a Tasting Room and a Boardroom were added on to the cellar.

The size of the farm including Ranzandale Farm (purchased at a later date), is 66 hectares of which 34 hectares is under vines. Seven dams provide water for the irrigation of the farm of which 80% is for drip irrigation and 20% overhead spray. The grape varieties found on the farm are Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Colombar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Shiraz. The root stock is mainly Richter 99, as well as 101/4 and Paulsen 1103.

The climate of the area is ideal for growing grapes, with an average summer day temp of 25ºC going up to 40ºC and a average winter day temperature of between 15 and 20ºC and nights below 10 ºC. The farm has an annual rainfall of ± 792mm and occasional snowfalls on the higher peaks of the surrounding mountains in winter.

The soil is made up of a layer of loamy coarse sand and fine coarse gravel, which overlies a soft weathered granite layer. There are mainly 3 soil types; the Cartref soil form which is found on the lower lying half of the farm, the topsoil overlying the weathered granite is washed out, due to lateral water seepage over the denser underlying granite. The Oakleaf soil form is on the higher lying part of the farm this lower subsoil layer consists of accumulated clay and lastly the Klapmuts soil form, while in some places the upper 15cm of weathered granite has developed a moderate blocky structure.

Harvesting is a very personal affair at Napier Winery, grapes are hand selected and hand picked from the vines in the early morning when the sun is still low in the sky. The grapes are hand sorted before and after de-stemming on sorting tables, through this process all leaves and stems are removed. The first grapes of the year to be harvested are the Chenin Blanc in early January for Brandy distillation and from the middle of the same month for dry white wine, Chardonnay is also picked at this time. From February to early April the red grapes are picked, with Cabernet Sauvignon usually being the last. Napier Winery harvests on average 8 tons per hectare.

As much care is taking in the wine making process as with the harvesting. Chenin Blanc grapes that are bottled under the name Greenstone are usually harvested at the end of January. The grapes are picked ripe at ± 21ºBalling, inoculated with wine yeast and fermented dry (under 2.5 gram per litre residual sugar) in stainless steel tanks. The Chenin Blanc is unwooded and no malolactic fermentation take place. The wine is protein and cold stabilized before sterile filtration, prior to bottling.

Chardonnay grapes bottled under the name St Catherine are picked at full ripeness (23.5ºBalling). Whole bunch pressing is performed to ensure clean clear juice. The juice is inoculated with wine yeast. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in French oak barrels (± 1/3 in new oak, 1/3 in second fill and 1/3 in third fill). Juice is fermented until dry. Batonage is applied. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine undergoes second fermentation (malolactic) in the barrel. Maturation take place on lees for at least 6-7 months and can continue for up to 11 months depending on the vintage. The wine is protein and cold stabilized before a light filtration prior to bottling.

Our classic Bordeaux blend bottled under the label Red Medallion, consists of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. All the components are made and matured separately. Blending is done after about 12- 18 months. Different varieties of blends are made and the perfect one is selected, then the big blend is made accordingly, the wine is then left for another 6 months for the components to “marry”.

The grapes are fermented in open stainless steel tanks. Depending on the wine style, the grapes are in the open fermenters from 8-12 days. During this period they are punched down frequently – every 4 hours if possible, again depending on the fermentation and vintage. Pump-overs are done for better colour extraction and to keep the skin ‘cake’ wet. Yeast is added to dominate the natural wild yeast and control the fermentation process. The open tanks have cooling to allow temperature control. Sugar levels are monitored and if the fermentation is dry, the wine is drained off and the grape skins are gently pressed in a basket press. The wine then goes into a closed tank. The pressed skins are later ploughed back into the ground as fertilizer. The wine undergoes natural malolactic fermentation, before being transferred to French oak barrels for 18-24 months of maturation. It is then bottled and left to lie in the underground storage cellar to mature for a further 2 years before release.

Our Brandy is made using the traditional pot-still method from 35-year-old Chenin Blanc grapes harvested early in January. After distillation it is then matured in European Oak barrels for five years before release.

Our Winery handles a capacity of ±250 tons of grapes and at full production can handle ±280 tons. The potential of each vintage of 250 tons is 12 500 cases of wine (12 bottle cases).

The first vintages to be bottled were Red Medallion in 1994, Cabernet Sauvignon in 1996, Chardonnay in 1996, Chenin Blanc in 1996 and the Brandy in 2000. The expected release dates of the wines are as follows; the Chenin Blanc is the same year as the vintage, Chardonnay is two years after the vintage, the Varietal range is two years after the vintage and the Red Medallion is four to five years after the vintage.

Wines planned for the future are a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon blend, a Bordeaux blend like the Red Medallion using Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec and the replacement of the aging Chenin blanc, a successful Napier wine.

Napier Winery
+27.21 8737829