Located in the Elgin Valley, not far from Cape Town, the Paul Cluver wine farm has been owned by the same family since the 1890s. The family were some of the first to turn their farms, previously used for wheat growing and sheep farming, into vineyards, an experiment which has proven to be very successful, so that the wine production here has continued to the present day. As well as growing and making their own wines, the owners of the farm also have Apple and Pear orchards, a stud farm, and eco-tourism related projects such as concerts, allowing Paul Cluver estate to move into the future without forgetting about its past as a traditional wine farm.
The estate is very large, estimated to be some 2000 and more hectares wide, and including within its boundaries the World Heritage Site known as the Kogel Biosphere. This area is protected by international law, and Paul Cluver estate has worked hard with conservationists and those interested in protecting the natural history of South Africa, in order to ensure that the Biosphere continues to this day. The estate is a primary mover in environmental matters, as well as being a fully working vineyard which still produces good quality wines.
The Paul Cluver wine farm has been heavily involved with projects which benefit the environment and the wider community, and it was one of the Founder members of the Green Mountain eco-route for wines, combining the estate’s two interests of wine and biodiversity. This wine route has now brought in other members from nearby farms, all of whom are working together to ensure the future for the flora and fauna of South Africa.
The wine estate also has many links to social projects, bring the initiator of the Thandi Wines project, which is the first black empowerment branded wine in South Africa, and was the World’s first Fairgtrade wine range.
Vital to the continuing success of the Paul Cluver wine farm is the Cluver family. Most of the family are involved in working on the farm, having been brought up to it by their parents Paul and Songvei. The brother Karin is the viticulturalist, working to protect the vines and orchards, and Andries Burger, the wine maker, is married to Inge, Paul and Songvei’s daughter and the financial manager of the estate. They are helped by people such as Craig Harris, who manages the vines, and Juleen Lakay who manages the tasting rooms.
The Paul Cluver wine farm creates a range of different wines to suit the tastes of every wine lover, from the basic white wines such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The latter has been grown in the cool climate of the farm, allowing it to mature slowly and gain as much flavour as possible before being harvested and bottled. The Riesling is also popular, with orchard blossoms and lime being added to the mix. For those who prefer dark wines, the Pinot Noir is of a good standard, being a light red colour and full of dark berries.