Stellenbosch, South Africa
See Kanonkop wines we sell
Kanonkop is one of the most interesting red wine producing estates in the Cape, and is regarded as the Cape equivalent of a First Growth producer. The name Kanonkop is a reference to the hill behind the farm from which a cannon was fired in the 17th century to alert local farmers that ships had entered Table Bay to restock on provisions before continuing their journey between Europe and the Far East. The farm was purchased in the 1930s by JW Sauer, who was involved in local politics and was a member of the provincial cabinet. His son, Paul Sauer, became involved in national politics and was the cabinet minister in charge of railways and harbors. Paul Sauer had a daughter, Mary Sauer, who married Jannie Krige, a rugby administrator from the University of Stellenbosch. Their two sons, Paul and Johann Krige, are the fourth generation and current owners of the farm.
In 1967 former Springbok rugby great, Jan “Boland” Coetzee, joined the team as a young graduate winemaker from the University of Stellenbosch, and produced the first vintage of wine in 1973. From 1980 until 2003 the winemaking was handed over to Beyers Truter who earned the reputation as the “King of Pinotage”. Since 2003 the wines have been made by Abrie Beeslaar who is a graduate of Stellenbosch University. After a few years in the Swartland and a few vintages in Germany, Abrie joined Kanonkop as assisntant winemaker in 2002. Since then he has twice been awarded the International Wine and Spirits Competition Winemaker of the Year Award (in 2008 and 2015). His predecessor Beyers Truter won this award in 1991.
Kanonkop is situated on the northwest facing slopes leading up to the Simonsberg mountains. This area is known as the Muldersvlei Bowl, also known as the “Red Wine Bowl” for its ability to produce red wines of a very high standard and longevity. The farm is between the towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl and is 125 hectares in size, with 100 hectares planted to vines. Pinotage is the most widely planted variety at 50% of the plantings, with Cabernet making up 35%. The balance is made up of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The rainfall mainly occurs in winter, with summer providing long warm days and cooling sea breezes of False Bay.
The people of Kanonkop make it what it is. The majority of the 50 people who work on the estate live there as well, making it a community with housing, daycare, and sports facilities. The soils are predominantly red decomposed granite, with a high clay content. Winemaking follows traditional methods in a very clean environment. Fermentation occurs in open concrete tanks, and during fermentation manual punchdowns occur every two hours around the clock. There is a strong focus on French Nevers barrels which have shown the best potential for aging the long lived red wines.