In 1898 Sir Antonie Viljoen, a medical doctor and graduate of Edinburgh University, bought Oak Valley. He was responsible for establishing the first commercial apple orchards in the area and also became a senator in the Cape parliament. He was knighted by King George in 1916 for his efforts to reconcile the Boers and Brits in the bitter aftermath of the Boer War.
At the time he bought the land, plans were underway to build a pioneering railway from Sir Lowry’s Pass to Caledon. Elgin existed in isolation until the track opened in 1902. The line was chiseled through solid rock to cross Sir Lowry’s Pass – the steepest gradient in the country and inspiring the name of this wine. This began an era of prosperity in Elgin, now renowned for its fruit, greenhouse cut flowers, beef cattle and, increasingly, for its high quality cool climate wines. With vineyards up to 500m above sea level, the higher altitude and colder winters make Elgin the coolest wine region in South Africa. The estate, set on 1786 hectares of land in the Elgin Valley, is now owned and run by the Rawbone-Viljoen family.
Bunches for this Riesling were harvested from vines grown on medium-textured gravelly soil with a structured clay layer and high stone content. Grapes were hand sorted, de-stemmed, crushed and then underwent a period of skin contact in tank to enhance flavour extraction before going through a gentle pressing cycle. The juice was clarified before initiating fermentation. Tank fermentation occurred until the decision was taken to arrest based on a thorough sensory evaluation to determine that the acidity was in perfect balance with the residual sugar.
Each label is hand-drawn, to reflect Oak Valley’s history.