De Trafford Winery is situated on the beautiful Mont Fleur farm set at the top of a dramatic valley above Stellenbosch, 380m up between the Stellenbosch and Helderberg mountains. Growing of vineyards on this farm started with the purchase of the property in 1976 by former architect, David Trafford and his wife Rita, chef and artist, when it was still inaccessible grazing land. Many of the high altitude slopes were found suitable for high quality red grape varieties. Complex granitic based soils have an ideal clay content that allows good drainage and sufficient water retention at the same time.
Due to quota restrictions, the planting of a commercial vineyard had to wait 18 years. In 1983 a small vineyard was established to produce experimental wines – consumed by family and friends. 1984 to 1991 were learning curve years, which included lots of help and advice from local winemakers and working experience in France, particularly in the Bordeaux area. Today David and Rita live in the middle of the vineyard, close to the winery and watch closely over all aspects of their business.
In addition to grapes grown on Mont Fleur, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chenin Blanc grapes have been sourced from three other vineyards in the Helderberg and Stellenbosch Mountain area to produce grapes with highly concentrated, balanced flavour from naturally low yielding vines. Rows of vines are carefully chosen from the various vineyard blocks and monitored throughout the growing season to ensure the best possible quality fruit. Small-scale production means careful attention paid to every detail of the winemaking process.
The first of its kind in South Africa. Inspired by the great Vin de Paille of the Rhone valley and the Jura, first produced in 1997.
We use exclusively Chenin Blanc, picked at normal (optimum) ripeness and laid out to dry on drying racks under the shade of the oak trees below the winery.
Typically drying takes about 3 weeks and the sugars concentrate as well as the flavour and acidity (providing balance). Extracting the treacle like liquid from the shrivelled berries is back breaking work in our traditional basket press. This is followed by usually a year long fermentation due to the concentrated nature of the liquid. We usually bottle after nearly 2 years in barrels and the result is intensely sweet yet not cloying.