Stellenbosch, South Africa
A FAMILY TRADITION
Kanonkop is a fourth generation family estate, which was purchased by JW Sauer, who served on the cabinet of the original Cape Provincial Council after the Union was established in South Africa.
His son Paul O Sauer, who became a cabinet minister with the portfolio of Railways and Harbours and then became a senator, took over the reigns from his father and was joined by one of the characters of the day, winemaker Danie Rossouw.
In 1967 former Springbok rugby great, Jan Boland Coetzee, joined the team as a young graduate winemaker from the University of Stellenbosch.
Mary Sauer, daughter of Paul Sauer, married Jannie Krige, a rugby administrator at the University of Stellenbosch, and he took early retirement to run the estate. Together with Coetzee they made the first estate bottled wines at Kanonkop in 1973.
With the departure of Coetzee in 1980, Beyers Truter joined the estate as winemaker and together with Johann and Paul, sons of Mary and Jannie, they continue the traditions developed on this highly prized estate.
Kanonkop derives its name from a kopje (hillock) from which a cannon was fired in the 17th century to alert farmers in outlying areas of the Boland that sailing ships plying the waters between Europe and the Far East had entered Table Bay for a stopover at Cape Town.
The people of Kanonkop make it what it is. They are not just employees or workers, they are the estate. The majority of the 50 people who work on the estate live there as well.
It is home to this community, with all amenities such as modern housing, a day care centre for young children and sporting facilities for cricket, soccer, netball and jukskei. Schools are a short distance from the estate.
The management style is one of decision making from the bottom up, with profit sharing a major incentive for all employees. Everyone on the estate is encouraged to participate in community projects, undertake worker training programmes to develop, and set their own personal goals and objectives. This is done with the assistance of professional advisors either on the estate or at nearby training or educational institutions.
On hand to assist in the cellar is Beyers Truter, a Stellenbosch BSc graduate in vini- and viticulture and is known as the "King of Pinotage". The hands-on man on the estate is Paul Krige, who after spending a short spell at the Elsenburg Agricultural College down the road from Kanonkop, took on quality control.
Kanonkop Estate is situated on the lower slopes of the Simonsberg Mountains in the Stellenbosch region of the Cape. It is between Stellenbosch and Paarl and falls in a sub-region called the Muldersvlei Bowl, more commonly known as the "red wine bowl" of South Africa. It has earned a reputation both at home and abroad for producing the best red wines in the country. The farm is situated on 140 hectares, of which 100 hectares are planted to vine. Besides the solid foundation on which the estate's winemaking principles are based, it is also blessed with ideal soils, cool sea breezes and long summer days, creating the perfect climate for grape growing.
The soils are predominantly red decomposed granite, with a high clay content. They have a very good water retention capacity. A small portion of about seven percent of the total vines are planted on Pinedene type soils, which become very wet in winter, but dry out in summer, necessitating supplementary irrigation.
The estate has an ideal micro-climate for red wine production, with cooling breezes from the False Bay coast in the late afternoons, significantly moderating the warm inland temperatures. Being in a Mediterranean climate, the majority of the annual 605mm rainfall is in winter. February is normally the warmest month of the year.
In 1995 Kanonkop Estate (Pty) Ltd obtained a significant share in this winery. Production has surpassed that of Kanonkop and is presently 80 000 - 90 000 cases of which 95% is Pinotage.
This 133 hectare farm in the Stellenbosch area was acquired in 1996. At present, most of the vines are being uprooted and an extensive replanting programme is underway.
A similar focused approach will be applied on Bouwland, where only noble red varieties will be grown and made, particularly Pinotage. The first wines to be vinified under this brand were made by Kanonkop winemaker, and co-owner of the estate, Beyers Truter. They were launched towards the end of 1997.
Kanonkop is renowned for its red wines, with Pinotage making up 50% of all plantings, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Merlot 15% and Cabernet Franc 5%.
See Kanonkop wines we sell