The Foundry Wine Collection was established on a shoestring budget in 2001 by Chris Williams (who narrowly escaped a career in law thanks to his passion for wine) and his great friend James Reid. Following his law degree, Chris enrolled at Elsenberg Agricultural College to study viticulture and oenology after which he worked as understudy winemaker to Giorgio Dalla Cia at the Meerlust Estate in Stellenbosch. He also spent some time in Bordeaux where he developed his love for all things French, including the classic wine regions.
After six vintages at Meerlust, Chris left to establish the South African operations of Boutinot LLC, a Manchester, UK-based wine company. In 2003 Chris spent one vintage at Delaire Vineyards after which he was lured back to Meerlust to become cellar master in charge of all wine production in 2004. After 16 more years at Meerlust, Chris left in December 2019 to establish a winery on shareholder James Reid’s Paardeberg. The first vintage of The Foundry was vinified at the Myburghs of Joostenburg winery in Paarl. There was no room for the barrels in their barrel room, and so they were accommodated in the old blacksmiths’ workshop – and so ‘The Foundry’ was born.
The grapes were partially de-stemmed and partially crushed directly into custom- made 5 ton stainless steel fermenters. Approximately 30% of the bunches remained whole. The first half of fermentation was allowed to proceed naturally, while the second part was completed by a neutral Rhone yeast. The cap was manually punched down twice a day at the beginning of fermentation and then pumped over for the remaining 3 days. At the end of fermentation the wine was pressed and the wine run directly to barrels. The press wine was kept separate. The wine underwent natural malolactic fermentation in oak. 300 l “hogsheads” were used and 7% of the barrels were new, the remainder were second fill. All the barrels were tight grained French Allier Oak. The wine received one racking during the first year of elevage. The best barrels were selected bottled after 15 months in oak, with no filtration and consequently might throw a harmless deposit in the bottle.