My family’s footprint in Africa over the last century has been in printing, not wine. We therefore do not have a centuries-old wine heritage or a Cape Dutch house with which to boast but over the last few years I have enjoyed discovering interesting family stories that I was able to use in developing our wine story.

Our logo and other symbols as well as labels and even wine names have borrowed from our short but rich printing history in Namibia. I too was a journalist before becoming a winemaker, 26 years ago. Devon Crest Vineyards is the spot where I continue to live out my dreams and express myself.

We rely primarily on Devon Crest Vineyards as the source for our red wines. The property lies on the slopes of Devon Valley’s northern ridge and rises from 200m to 310m above sea level. The whole site has a southerly aspect and grand views of False Bay, which is approximately 30km away, and the mountains surrounding Stellenbosch. The soils are chiefly deep decomposed granite and have a red-brown or terra cotta colour. They contain a high percentage of clay (about 30%) which is well dispersed throughout the profile and aids with water retention. Near the top of the property there are stones, remnants of the mother material, in the profile (such soils are called Glenrosa) while further down these are absent (Clovelly or Hutton).

Devon Crest is fully planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage, Cabernet franc, Petit Verdot and a small vineyard of Semillon. The last two varieties will produce their first crop in 2012. For the Sauvignon blanc grapes we rely on top growers in Elgin, chosen for delicate cool climate characteristics.

The Meinert Wines story, alas, is not one of generations of wine farmers. Instead, it has its origin in the purchase of 11,5ha in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch in 1987 by winemaker Martin Meinert, a scion of a Namibian printing and publishing family. The property, known at the time only as Remainder of Farm 78, District of Stellenbosch, had been planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage in 1975. Because most of the vines were debilitated by leaf-roll virus replanting began in 1989, a process finally completed in 2008. In 1997 an adjoining parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot planted in 1989 was added to the property, which now covers a total of 16ha.

The winery was built in 1990 and the first wine, a small quantity of Cabernet Sauvignon, was made in 1991 when Martin was still very occupied establishing Vergelegen’s vineyards and winery. These and subsequent vintages including 1996 were never bottled but sold in bulk to wholesalers. Commercial production began with the 1997 vintage, producing a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend which were released in 1999.

Our logo of an eagle with a printers’ stick in one claw and a tastevin in the other is entirely fictitious. As a new winery without history and not even a family crest we had to make it up. My family had used the German Master Guild of Printers’ eagle as a symbol for the sports teams of their printing company.

This crest shows the two-headed eagle (originally used by the Holy Roman Empire) holding a printer’s stick in one claw and an ink roller in the other. Circling birds of prey are also a feature of the Devon Crest vineyard and we set about simplifying and adapting the rather fierce martial style eagle to suit our vinous ends.

Meinert Wines