The story of Heron Ridge
In 1997, Jane and Pete, Pippa, Tom and Harry, decided to move from their home in Newlands, Cape Town. Pete and Jane had a dream of leaving the suburbs of Cape Town, to live on a farm and start a new life amongst the vineyards and slopes of the Wineland Area.
The two of them started perusing the Farming Market to see whether anything was available to their taste and came across an uncut diamond on the base of the Helderberg Mountain. The farm was called Klein Plaas (‘Small Farm’). This smallholding was 4.2 hectares and ideal for the vision they had in mind.
The farm already had established bushvines consisting of Cinsaut and Chenin blanc, which Pete would deliver to Stellenbosch Vineyards Co-op, when the grapes were ready to be harvested. After two years of doing so, Pete decided that he would make a barrel of Chenin blanc.
The cellar was so small that the barrel hardly fit, nevermind the amateur winemaker.
This would not stop him from doing so however, and later that year, a barrel of Chenin was made (the quality there-of withheld). Once Pete had made a barrel of wine from grapes he had harvested from his own vineyard, his dream grew somewhat. He had found his passion!
Pete started doing some research and got expert advice from numerous people in the industry and in 1999, decided to pull his entire vineyard out and plant Shiraz with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. He was told that the cool sea breeze and the warm temperatures of the Helderberg area, would allow for the slow, even ripening of the two cultivars.
Once he had planted the new vineyard, he nurtured them until they produced their first grapes which two years later, turned out to be 800 kg. He sought the expertise of Kevin Arnold, who was keen to help Pete find his feet in the Wine Industry. He made his first vintage under Kevin’s watchful eye, and released this vintage in 2001. He then received a 4 star rating for this first vintage in Wine Magazine and John Platter wine guide!
Jane and Pete then decided that they would need somewhere to make their wine in the future and in 2002, they started the construction of their small cellar at the bottom of the farm. Just before the vintage of 2003, the cellar was completed and the first vintage was made on the premises.
Then in 2006, Pete was diagnosed with cancer, a devastating reality which hit the family hard. Pippa had already started working with him the previous year as she had finished with her studies. She learned all about the whole process and added her own passion and perspective to his style of winemaking. Later that year, Pete passed away. His dedication to his family, farm and friends was what made him who he was. A great man who is sorely missed.
Pippa then took up the reigns and being passionate about the farm, added her unique perspective to the wines made. She travelled to France in 2007, to work a vintage at La Fleur Du Bouard in Pomerol. She worked and gained exceptional knowledge under Winemaker, Philippe Nunes, and travelled two years later to another vintage with the same team. Her other primary passion is for conservation and in 2014 she decided to follow her desire to make a difference in conserving South Africa’s endangered species. She now works for Wildlife Act in Northern Zululand, with particular interest in African Wild Dogs. Some truly unique wines were made under her watchful eye between 2006 and 2014.
Harry, the youngest son, followed in his father’ and sister’s footsteps and after completing his studies in viticulture and oenology at Elsenberg College in Stellenbosch, went on to work several harvests at firstly Thelema Mountain Vineyards, gaining experience in the cellar under Rudi Schultz and Duncan Clarke and then at Klein Constantia with Matthew Day. He took over from Pippa when she left for Zululand and now manages Heron Ridge.
All wine made at Heron Ridge is made with passion and tended by hand, from grape to glass. With all objectives aimed at the highest quality and sustainability.