Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Stark-Conde is a small, family run winery that is now recognized as one of South Africa's premier red wine producing estates, making some of the more exciting red wines coming out of the Western Cape. The total annual case production is about 6,000 cases, and the wines coming from Stark-Conde have received numerous awards over the last fifteen years, both domestically and internationally. Located about five minutes drive from the town of Stellenbosch in the narrow Jonkershoek Valley, Stark-Conde is a boutique winery in the truest sense of the word. Owner/winemaker Jose Conde is Cuban-American and in a prior life he worked as a graphic artist. He married the Japanese-German daughter of Hans Schroeder, a South African-German who owns the Oude Nektar property where the Stark-Conde winery resides.
In 1998 Jose Conde made a few barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon in a store room on the Oude Nektar property. From these four barrels of Cabernet, Jose was awarded a prestigious five stars in the Platter South African Wine Guide. Inspired by his early success Jose soon became a full time winemaker and Stark-Conde Wines was created. Believing in traditional winemaking almost everything is done by hand, from the picking and sorting the grapes to manual punch-downs, along with using small basket presses and elevating his wines in French oak barrels before release.
The Jonkershoek Valley is prime real estate for a winery, with only a handful of wineries being able to call it home. The sides of the valley are steep and there is high winter rainfall. This higher rainfall, three times more than neighboring Stellenbosch, coupled with the farm's higher elevation and finely textured, clay based soils, are perfect for producing world class wines, in particular Cabernet Sauvignon.
The flagship range of Stark-Conde is named Three Pines after three old pine trees that stand majestically on the vineyard at the top of the hill overlooking the winery. Wines labeled as Three Pines are limited production single vineyard offerings from this high elevation vineyard, of which a Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are produced. The wines labeled under the Stellenbosch designation are from different blocks on the estate. Wishing to experiment and make wines sourced from different areas throughout the Cape, the Postcard Series was established. The Postcard Series range allows Jose and team to match sites throughout the wine lands with specific varietals, allowing for the optimum expression of a wine and its varietal composition.
Recently a café was opened on the property, adding foot traffic to the tasting room. Named Postcard Café for the breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains, the café has been a resounding success drawing large crowds of visitors on the weekends. A Balinese style tasting room on the island that sits in the middle of the dam at the entrance of the winery allows visitors to enjoy the spectacular views while tasting the wines.