Cathedral Cellar Barrel Stories

The Cathedral Cellar is the heart of KWV, and home to its range of storytelling vats

Barrel No 1 The Sailing Vessel Barrel inscription: “This Cape is the most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of this earth.” - Sir Francis Drake, June 1580 In 1655 the first vines were brought to the Cape in this Dutch sailing vessel, giving birth to winemaking in the Cape. This carving denotes this massive historical moment in South African history, while also illustrating how far we have come as an industry with a global footprint.

Barrel No 2 Crushing of the Grapes Barrel inscription: “Heeden is God de loff van de Caepse druyven d’ eerste maal wijn geparst.” Kommandeur Jan van Riebeeck 2 Februarie 1659 A small dream that resulted in a big feat: the first batch of grapes pressed in the Cape was so small that it could all be done by hand. Today, South Africa is respected globally for its wines produced here at the tip of Africa.

Barrel No 3 French Huguenot Monument Barrel inscription: Aankoms 1688 van die Hugenote aan die Kaap. The French Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek commemorates the arrival of the French Huguenots in 1688. Many of them came from wine regions in France and they had a much better knowledge of viticulture and oenology than the Dutch farmers. Therefore they made a huge contribution to the development of the SA wine industry.

Barrel No 4 Harvesters Barrel inscription: “How good the God of Harvest is to you, who pours abundance o’er your flowing fields” Cathedral Cellar enjoys trusted relationships with grape producers across the Cape Winelands who provide us with the assurance that our no - compromise approach to quality carries through from vineyard to wine glass.

Barrel No 5 Wine Tasters Barrel inscription: "Wine that maketh glad the heart of man." (Psalms) This vat shows a group of people tasting wine, reflecting the sociable aspect of wine.

Barrel No 6 Constantia Barrel inscription: “Constantia Wieg van die Suid-Afrikaanse wynbedryf.” The history of the South African wine industry would be incomplete without a mention of the historic Constantia Estate. This carving on vat no. 6 in the Cathedral Cellar, depicts this old estate along with the inscription.

Barrel No 7 Brandy Distillation: “Die distilleering proses is van die vroegeste tye gebruik om drank soorte soos brandewyn te vervaardig” Brandy production at KWV started in 1926, and the company was the first to offer a commercial brandy in South Africa. The product, like so many other brandies from KWV, proved its popularity and consistent quality by winning sought after awards in international competitions. South African brandy legislation which is of the strictest in the world, now specifies that the unmatured brandy spirit be aged for a minimum period of 3 years in oak barrels, with a volume not exceeding 340ℓ.

Barrel No 8 KWV Headquarters: “Die K.W.V. in 1918 gestig om die belange van wynboere te behartig.” KWV has played a formative role in the South African wine industry. The façade of the KWV headquarters with its intricate design is a proud reminder of this honoured history – which lives on in the quality wine produced in its Cathedral Cellar.

Barrel No 9 Cellarmasters Barrel inscription: "Van die suidelike son en sooi ‘n distillaat, Kyk die volmaakte kelk waarvan Plato praat." - DJ Opperman Cathedral Cellar’s wines are matured in French oak barrels, to ensure classically structured wines that reflect the charm of old-world wines. This barrel carving appropriately depicts the joy of tasting a wine from barrel, and the joy when the content is deemed ready for bottling.

Barrel No 10 Coopers Barrel inscription: “Fill every beaker up my men, Pour forth the cheering wine, There’s life and strength in every drop, - Thanksgiving to the vine.” A.D. Greene Taken from the ‘Baron’s Last Banquet’ the poet pays homage to a respected warrior reflecting on a full and daring life, calling for a feast and brim-filled goblets of wine.

Barrel No 11 Song of the Vintners Barrel inscription: "Die Heer geef reën en sonskyn totdat die Parstyd kom" - Liedjie vir Wynboere 1880 Winemakers and viticulturists rely on nature to grant them a good vintage. Terroir plays an important role and finds expression in our wines that reflect the sun and rain we’ve been blessed with.

Barrel No 12 Bacchus: “Wine to our daily feasts, brings cheerful laughter” The Roman god of merriment, Bacchus, is carved onto vat no. 12 in the Cathedral Cellar. Bacchus is the mythical patron of wine and viticulture, also known as Dionysus, who was also later considered a patron of the arts. This particular carving therefore aptly illustrates wine-making as an art, with the best products having the ability to elicit great joy from its drinker.

Barrel No 13 Music and Wine: This vat symbolises the enjoyment of wine with friends and music. The acoustics in the Cathedral Cellar are excellent and events can be held here with great success – guided by the creative hand of Chef Mynhardt Joubert, our ambassador chef. This work of art was done on panels of South African oak which clearly displays the coarse grain of South African oak versus European oak trees.

Barrel No 14 Nature, cellar, man: This is a collage of different types of timbers showcasing the natural flora one encounters in the SA. Around the door is a panel of stinkwood, resembling a barrel. The chalice is made from the national tree of South Africa, the yellowwood tree and the berries are from the wild olive tree– all three indigenous timbers. The leaves are made from the Brazilian jacaranda tree, the vines from the Australian Blackwood tree and the barrels from SA oak. The rays at the top are made from Burmese teak.

Barrel No 15 The Centenary Barrel inscription: “KWV celebrating 100 years of success in innovative viti- & viniculture” To commemorate its centenary and to continue the storytelling legacy which one encounters when visiting the Cathedral Cellar, KWV commissioned a wood carving artist to carve a special 2018 edition on one of these spectacularly huge stukvats. This latest edition honours Cathedral Cellar’s engraved legacy by including KWV's very important centenary milestone. The wood carving artist, Ivan Hunter also created a mirror-image of the Cathedral Cellar, showing the importance of what is considered the heart of KWV.

Cathedral Cellar