De Grendel Winemaking
Winemaking at De Grendel is a careful balance between science and art.
The meticulous care of the vineyards allows the grapes to express the environment in which they are grown and their distinctive varietal character. Careful harvesting and gentle handling in the cellar, combined with the winemaker's passionate practice of their craft, carry the wines throughout the journey from fruit into wine.
The state of the art winery is respectful of the age-old traditions of winemaking yet firmly and uncompromisingly modern in technological advancements, a perfect marriage of old and new.
Charles Hopkins – Cellar Master
Charles Hopkins has been at De Grendel since the very beginning of winemaking on the Durbanville farm in 2005, when Sir David Graaff lured him away from Graham Beck with an irresistible offer to head up winemaking, and to design and build his own cellar. Charles is a lifelong student of wine and even after 30 years’ experience in the industry and multiple local and international accolades, he remains always curious to learn more on his winemaking journey.
In November 2019, he achieved a major milestone on this journey, with the award of his first five-star rating in the Platter’s South African Wine Guide, for the 2017 Elim Shiraz from De Grendel – a wine that is especially close to his heart.
Charles was born in Somerset West and grew up in Bredasdorp and Strand. He did his national army service after finishing school and then studied winemaking at Elsenburg before joining the old Union Wines, now DGB, and then Graham Beck. He is passionate about the process of making wine and finds the impact of soil, climate and viticulture practices on the end product especially fascinating. His other passion is helping young winemakers on their own journeys, and he has mentored more Cape Winemakers’ Guild protégés than any other Guild member.
Charles has been involved in all facets of winemaking in South Africa and has extended his learning by working two vintages overseas, one in France and one in California, as well as regular study tours to other winemaking countries. He has served the industry as a board member of the Cape Winemakers’ Guild and various producer associations such as the Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage Associations. His wines have achieved gold and double gold, and scores of 95 and more, in local and international competitions and wine ratings.
Quality is not a goal, it’s a journey.
The De Grendel cellar sits majestically elevated on the fynbos-covered slopes of the Tygerberg with a postcard-perfect panorama of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town.
It was built in accord with its surroundings, with tones of sand and slate combining both traditional and contemporary materials. Although modern in design, it references the colonial architecture of the main house, with its deep shaded stoep and big arched windows to take in the views, sea breezes and the views of the dam below.
The late Sir David Graaff consulted with renowned Johannesburg-based geomancer, Ying-Chung Tsai, to ensure that the building was located in an auspicious position.
Geomancy encourages us to build in optimum harmony with the elements. Feng Shui has been used for thousands of years and actually uses a lot of common sense in terms of design and position.
– Sir David Graaff
The building is designed around the practical considerations of both the process of winemaking, and the experience of wine tasting. A ramp leads you from the tasting room into the belly of the building, through different layers and levels and to the glass-roomed restaurant on the floor below where the breathtaking Table Mountain vistas open up.
De Grendel is not a terroir winemaker, preferring to blend wines from different regions to create our award-winning wines. Our grapes are harvested from two principal vineyards.
The slopes of the Tygerberg, which face the setting sun, offer cooling breezes off the cold Antarctic Benguela current from the Atlantic Ocean only 7 kilometres away.
The breezes alleviate the summer heat allowing De Grendel’s grapes to hang for longer before they reach their perfect ripeness. Longer hang time means better colour and flavour in our wines.
This climate, combined with a soil combination of blue shale, glen rosa and oak leaf is perfect for cultivating Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.
The Graaffs have been farming near Ceres for generations, and recognised that the Witzenberg mountains, almost a kilometre above sea level, were the perfect cold climate to allow the grapes to hang for longer - perfect for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
This vintage of “Op die Berg” Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will be the first from the newly-created appellation of Ceres Plateau.