Boplaas is situated in Calitzdorp, a small picturesque village in the semi-arid Little Karoo region in the Southern Cape. The Nel family continues a rich legacy that reaches back more than 150 years. Boplaas is a family concern with Carel Nel, a Cape Wine Master, as owner and cellarmaster. Boplaas has long been regarded as at the forefront of premium wine production. It is known for its world-class table wines, Ports and award winning pot-stilled brandies.
The Boplaas story dates back to 1880 when the first brandy was crafted by Daniel Nel for export to London, but it is only since 1980 that Boplaas, in its current form, has been in existence. Born entrepreneur, Carel Nel’s first business venture was buying broken antique furniture, getting it restored and re-selling it. After finishing his BSc studies in winemaking, he joined his father on the farm. Always on the lookout for opportunities, he soon started a fruit drying, fruit preserve and jam business and, over time, used the profits to build a cellar on the farm.
The success of the Boplaas vrugtehappies (dried fruit titbits) and other dried fruits allowed the family to follow their true passion: crafting fine wines in the Klein Karoo. The foundation stone of the new cellar was laid in 1981 with the first Boplaas Estate wines released in 1982. Their very first SA Champion Port was crafted in 1986 and was awarded this coveted title at the National Young Wine Show.
Towards the end of the 80s the first vineyards at Ruiterbosch in the Outeniqua Mountains were established. This was the first cool climate site in the Southern Cape and allowed the production of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Méthode Cap Classique (traditional bottle fermented sparkling wine).
Conservation and the reduction of their carbon footprint have always been important and, in this spirit, the family farming legacy continues at Boplaas, with both Carel’s daughters involved in the enterprise with many longstanding employees’children working alongside them.
Ouma Cloete was Carel’s great grandmother whose family left the Constantia Valley in the late 1800s when failing farming fortunes forced them to seek a better life in the Klein Karoo. The Cloetes decided to settle in the fertile hamlet of Calitzdorp to farm fruits and vines. So it is apt that out of adversity an exceptional sweet wine was born to honour the pioneering forbears.
Hand harvested in the early morning, with rigorous bunch selection in vineyard and then again at the cellar, the whole bunches were transferred in lug boxes into two Vintage Port Lagars for intensive foot treading until sufficient juice was released to “float” the cap. The foot treading continued, four times daily, during the three day cold soak, to extract optimal flavour from the raisins which were then pressed into stainless steel where the golden yellow elixir gently fermented.